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Apple intentionally slow down their old phones to increase their battery life

Apple are supplying phones with batteries that cannot maintain their voltage requirements

Apple intentionally slow down their old phones to increase their battery life

Apple intentionally slow down their old phones to increase their battery life

Have you ever thought that your phone had gotten slower over time? Well, now it looks like this problem isn't because of bloated software or more demanding apps, at least for Apple. 

Recent discussions online have sparked some interesting research from Geekbench, the creators of the widely use Geekbench benchmarking utility. This study found that Apple has been releasing software updates that have been downclocking their CPUs as batteries age, preventing devices from achieving their peak performance. 

The reasoning behind this is simple, over time the batteries used in iPhone (see iPhone 6s example below) over time are unable to meet the device's voltage requirements, particularly at low temperatures, causing phones to shut down randomly for some users. To fix this issue, Apple decided to downclock the SOCs on their devices, lowering their voltage requirements and increasing their battery life. This fix is not a real solution to the problem, however, as iPhone users are then unable to access a significant portion of the performance of their devices, damaging the user experience. 

Apple has officially released a statement to The Verge confirming that this is the case. Apple also confirmed that they have extended this "feature" to the iPhone 7 and will bring it to future devices. 

   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 the table below we can see the scale of the problem, with updates and degraded batteries causing a large number of iPhone users to have their phones slowed down. With iPhone 6s update 11.2.0 we can see that some devices are performing at less than half the speed of a new iPhone 6s. 

One factor that is worth remembering is that phones typically benchmarked when they are brand new, which means that the highest peak shown in these benchmark distributions will almost always be for models with fresh batteries. 

Apple intentionally slow down their old phones to increase their battery life  Apple intentionally slow down their old phones to increase their battery life

 

The iPhone 6s was released on September 25th, 2016, making all iPhone 6s devices less than two years and two months old. This data shows that in this time that Apple has decreased the performance of their handset by over 50% in some cases, destroying the iPhone's user experience. 

What is shown here is that Apple is creating their phones with batteries that cannot stand the test of time, lacking the ability to supply high enough voltages over as little as a two-year lifespan to maintain peak performance levels. Yes, batteries cannot be expected to last forever, but in this case, Apple has hidden this problem from their users and has degraded the performance of their devices significantly over time without their knowledge. 

Apple needs to make it easier for iPhone users to replace the battery within their device, or otherwise endeavour to increase the longevity of the batteries in their future devices. Apple is unlikely to do this given the fact that this "feature" will push more people into a 12-month or 2-year phone upgrade cycle. 
  
You can join the discussion on Apple's iPhone battery and performance degradation on the OC3D Forums

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Most Recent Comments

21-12-2017, 07:54:30

wozza365
It wouldn't be that much of a problem if they displayed a message to tell the user what is going on. Sure they should put in better batteries, but hindsight is a wonderful thing. All they would need to say is "your battery is degraded, as a result performance may be affected, please consider replacing your battery"Quote

21-12-2017, 08:34:20

barnsley
Wouldn't be surprised if its the case for every smart phone out there, rather than exclusively an Apple issue. Especially considering how few flagship phones have easily replaceable batteries nowadays.

Perhaps a turbo/performance mode button would be a good idea? I had a performance mode on my old Xioami phone and that was really useful when I needed a burst of speed for things like Google Carboard apps.Quote

21-12-2017, 12:37:46

NeverBackDown
Good ol' reliable Apple.Quote

21-12-2017, 14:11:08

Avet
I really don't know what the fuss is all about. If it delivers good experience that is all that matters. I don't have a flagship phone, and i have never thought i really need more performance from my phone. From my PC yes. You always need more performance from your PC. There is no such thing as overkill. But phone... Cmon... As long as it can browse web without lag, and switch between apps smoothly it is perfect. Battery life is more important that overhead performance.Quote

21-12-2017, 14:25:16

demonking
I don't actually believe a word of it.
We've known this for years, apple has always denied it and now it's been proven they have had to find away to cover it up.
Its a way of pushing you to buy a new phone.Quote
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