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Apple Admits It Slows Down Older Phones

22 December 2017

Apple offered trade-ins for some models of the iPhone 6s, but there have been rumblings that it has affected other models, and, as Poole's research shows, the same processor performance degrading happened for him on the iPhone 7 as it did on the 6s.

Apple says the iPhone SE, iPhone 6, iPhone 6S and iPhone 7 are all impacted.

The update slows down the performance of the CPU when the battery gets old, but the company failed to alert all iPhone users on the true nature of the update. And to combat this, Apple's every update on an older phone slows down the processor, thus not demanding those big spikes that wear out the battery. After replacing the battery, Geekbench showed that the scores had almost doubled. To test this, Poole plotted the kernel density of Geekbench 4 single-core scores for the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 7 running different versions of iOS.

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He found some of these older iPhones did indeed appear to have been deliberately slowed down. If the firm had clearly stated "We're going to make a change that will affect your phone's performance when the battery gets old, to stop it from randomly shutting down throughout its life", it would have pre-empted complaints and kept customers (relatively) happy.

The spokesperson said: "Our goal is to deliver the best experience for customers, which includes overall performance and prolonging the life of their devices".

The feature was reportedly implemented on the iPhone 6, 6S and SE a year ago during a software update, and on the iPhone 7 as of December with the release of iOS 11.2.

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Essentially, Apple is saying that when a battery is in a poor condition, it may not be able to supply the required maximum current demanded by the phone's processor at full speed. The outcome is generally a stage where the phone shuts down inadvertently, and Apple is trying to prevent these random shutdown. It can instead pack a larger battery and allow iPhones to perform at their peak performance slightly longer before it starts smoothing down. "All batteries which rely on electrochemistry, not just lithium-ion ones, go through a chemical reaction and, because of this, the material and battery life degrades". Older batteries are incapable of handling the phone's operation with the same effectiveness as an iPhone with a new battery.

But certainly, there is an argument that Apple should have been more transparent about the slowdown "feature", and some will feel their trust in the company has been dented by the admission.

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Apple Admits It Slows Down Older Phones