Apple slows down old iPhones, study suggests

Is Apple slowing down old iPhones?

It’s a question that comes up again and again because iPhone batteries aren’t easy to replace, and a new report from a popular benchmarking app suggests the answer is yes.

The founder of Primate Labs, which makes the Geekbench app used to benchmark performance of iPhones and other mobile and desktop devices, dug deeper into the numbers collected by the app — after a popular Reddit post last week discussing the issue — and published his findings Monday.

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“It appears the problem is widespread, and will only get worse as phones (and their batteries) continue to age,” John Poole wrote. ” I believe (as do others) that Apple introduced a change to limit performance when battery condition decreases past a certain point.”

Geekbench found slowdowns in the performance of iPhone 6s and iPhone 7 models after iOS updates. Poole theorizes that as the battery in an older iPhone declines, Apple slows down the phone’s performance so the battery won’t drain too quickly, and mentioned the iPhone 6 shutdown issue that Apple acknowledged late last year as a possible reason.

“However, does the same issue affect the iPhone 7?” Poole asked in his post. “Apple appears to have added a similar change to iOS 11.2.0 for the iPhone 7.”

Apple has not responded to our request for comment.

This report comes after another benchmarking company, Futuremark, came to a different conclusion in a study published a couple of months ago. That study found no significant declines in older iPhones’ performance over time.


Photo: Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller announces the iPhone 6 at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on Sept. 9, 2014 in Cupertino. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)


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  • Jeff Safire

    So, we have one test that claims performance degradation and one that claims none. Sounds like a draw. Also, Primate Labs should be careful what they claim here; this could be considered libel by Apple’s lawyers. Furthermore, I don’t see such a “slowdown” as being a terrible thing. But, it would be nice if the user had an option to enable or disable it. I know when I purchase an iPhone, the battery is not (easily) replaceable, so at some point when the battery has begun to degrade, it may not last me all day. Then in some circumstances, I may be okay to give up some performance so that my iPhone will last through the evening.

  • Marco Romani

    Well anecdotally I can attest to the fact my iphone 6 became nearly unusable post iOS 11 update. Even after completely wiping the phone and starting over. Basically slightly better than using an actual brick as a smartphone. I totally understand that as the OS adds features that older phones can’t keep up. I’d just appreciate it if apple admitted that is going to happen. My iphone X is great – just stoopid stoopid that you have to go into settings to completely shut down the phone instead of holding down a button.