Here’s Why Apple Slows Down Older iPhones
Ever since the iPhone 8 and iPhone X was launched, there have been multiple reports from previous gen iPhone users of their devices slowing down considerably. Theories about how Apple deliberately slows down older iPhones to practically force people into buying the new ones have been doing the rounds ever since.
Ever since a Reddit post gained attention and the interpretation of subsequent benchmark tests posted by Primate Labs’ John Poole went even more viral, people have been taking shots at Apple for throttling the speeds of older iPhones.
To actually believe that Apple or for that matter any company would do something so ethically wrong would be unfair. If Apple were to do this, it would likely lead to incredible battles with the governmental that no company like Apple would ever want to happen. In fact, Apple is focusing attention on smoothing out the very high and quick peaks of power draw that can cause problems with older batteries.
To address the issue and the theories flying around the internet, Apple issued a statement to TechCrunch:
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.
In short, what Poole’s benchmarks are showing is the result of a power curve-smoothing algorithm that Apple rolled out last year to mitigate iPhone shutdown issues.
To tackle battery ageing in a more efficient way, what Apple is doing for older iPhones is it is capping the processor power to prolong the age of the battery. This is a is a lithium-ion chemistry issue, not an Apple or any other OEM issue. Over time, batteries just become bad. This is an attempt to make people’s phone work for longer with fewer issues, not to get them to switch away from it.
These changes will not affect the average performance of a device, and it is not throttling; it is capping the peak demands. In doing so, it is not allowing them to be as high and spreading that work out over more cycles rather than one.