By now we have all read the headlines about Apple slowing down older iPhones on purpose. I read alot of social media post where people feel that the discovery is confirmation of a suspected conspiracy that Apple intentionally slows down older phones to make you want to buy a newer phone. There are a few articles that are circulating that explain the technical challenge that made Apple ultimately push an update about a year ago that prompted the OS to throttle the cpu on older iPhones. Those articles to me at least, seem a little too geeky so I thought I should write something up that explains the issue as simple and straight forward as possible.
Phone technology is advancing at a very high rate. Phones are becoming faster and are loaded with new features year after year. The phone with all of it’s cutting edge technology depends on it’s battery to power all of the electronics. Battery technology has not advanced much over the years. There’s only so much power you can draw out of a battery that is increasingly becoming thinner as phones become thinner. Batteries over time degrade. There is currently no way around a battery degrading over time. Depending on how heavily you use your phone and if you expose your phone to heat or extreme cold, you shorten the life span of your battery. Simply put, over time your phones battery won’t hold the same amount of charge as it did when it was new.
The problem that Apple ran into and had to solve happened about a year ago with the iPhone 6 and 6s. Some iPhone 6 and 6s phones were unexpectedly shutting off and some would drain alot faster than usual. To make things worse, if your phone shut off, you would have to connect it to a charger to power it back on. To solve this issue, Apple made a change to iOS 10.3.2 by adding power management to the throttling mechanism. What this does is improve battery life and prevents shut downs by throttling the cpu when the OS detects that the battery can no longer provide enough power to meet the cpu’s demand.
The battery issue is not unique to iPhones. Android phones are also subject to the same issue. All phone manufacturers deal with this issue of which they all mitage the issue in a number of different ways. The problem that I see is that Apple did not make this issue clear to the consumer when it rolled out the update in iOS 10.3.2. I don’t think it would be such a big deal if Apple at that time, made it clear on what your options are if you notice sluggish performance.
In short, all batteries age. At some point they won’t be able to do the things they used to be able to do. Apple in the OS checks the battery, if it’s an older battery it will keep apps from doing things that tax the battery. There’s two choices at this point, either deal with a slower phone or deal with a phone that will shut down unexpectedly. The issue is not that the phone is old, it’s that the battery is old therefore simply replacing your battery will fix the slowness all together. It wasn’t a conspiracy by Apple to make you buy a new phone. Apple solved an issue so that you could continue using your old phone and still be able to update to the latest OS and be sure that you have the latest security updates to keep your data safe. Currently, iPhones 6, 6s, SE, and 7’s are subject to throttling as those batteries are aging to the point that the OS may trigger it’s power management feature.
Hopefully this explanation shed some light on this confusing issue.