Have you ever wondered if your iPhone was becoming slower? Well, wonder no more! Older iPhones are becoming slower but not because they’re old. Instead, it appears that Apple is deliberately slowing down old iPhones through software updates causing the phone’s processor speed to be limited. Apple was forced to officially admit to this practice after a Reddit post about slowing iPhones went viral. While Apple’s reasoning for this practice is sound, it still sounds very much like ‘planned obsolescence’ a practice where manufacturers intentionally mess around with old devices so that users will be forced to buy new ones. In the aftermath of the official admission by apple 26 lawsuits have been filed against the company.
Early last year iPhone 6, 6S and 6 Plus users complained that their phones were suddenly shutting down, even though there was sufficient battery left. This tended to happen during peak current demands when users would be doing something on their phones that required a burst of power like playing games or downloading apps. It’s this issue that apple tried to remedy through the deliberate slowing down of older iPhones. The reasoning goes that the phones were shutting off as a result of ageing batteries not being able to provide peak power when required. The solution to the problem was to limit the processor speed on older devices in order to prevent the phone from drawing peak current from the battery.
Here’s Apple’s official statement: ‘Our goal is to deliver the best experience for customers, which includes overall performance and prolonging the life of their devices. Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, have a low battery charge or as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components.
‘Last year we released a feature for iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone SE to smooth out the instantaneous peaks only when needed to prevent the device from unexpectedly shutting down during these conditions. We’ve now extended that feature to iPhone 7 with iOS 11.2, and plan to add support for other products in the future.’
John Poole the founder of Primate Labs and Geekbench took matters into his own hands even before Apple’s confession and pulled together and compared data from the performance testing Geekbench had done on users’ iPhone 6s and 7 devices. His analysis revealed that processors did slow down after the software update meant to fix the shutdown problem, that the problem was widespread, and likely to get worse as phones (and their batteries) age. He also noted that iPhone 6s users who replaced their batteries had faster phones. According to his analysis even the iPhone 7 was being slowed down by the update.
All of this is quite upsetting because while Apple appears to be doing something for the benefit of its users, it shines a light on the potential for manufacturers to tamper with old devices in order to force users to buy new ones. Apple has faced a barrage of criticism about the issue, huge social media backlash and even some lawsuits. We think that the response is not only reasonable but also good because if users are not going to hold their device manufacturers accountable, there’s no telling what they might get up to!
What do you think? Are you one of those affected? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.