San Francisco: If you’ve been thinking your older iPhones has been slowing down over time, you aren’t imagining things: Apple has confirmed that it intentionally curbs performance on devices with ageing batteries, including the iPhone 7, 6, 6s and SE – and it will continue to do so for other products, too.
Reddit users have noticed that Apple appears to be slowing down old iPhones that have low-capacity batteries. While many iPhone users have experienced perceived slowdowns due to iOS updates over the years, it appears that there’s now proof Apple is throttling processor speeds when a battery capacity deteriorates over time.
So it's true Apple intentionally slow down old iPhones. Proof: My iPhone 6 was bought 3years ago and recently got really slow. APP 'CPU DasherX' shows iPhone CPU is under clocked running at 600MHz. After a iPhone battery replacement. CPU speed resumed to factory setting 1400MHz. pic.twitter.com/pML3y0Jkp2
— Sam Si (@sam_siruomu) December 20, 2017
According to TheVerge article, Geekbench developer John Poole has mapped out performance for the iPhone 6S and iPhone 7 over time, and has come to the conclusion that Apple’s iOS 10.2.1 and 11.2.0 updates introduce this throttling for different devices. iOS 10.2.1 is particularly relevant, as this update was designed to reduce random shutdown issues for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S. Apple’s fix appears to be throttling the CPU to prevent the phone from randomly shutting down. Geekbench reports that iOS 11.2.0 introduces similar throttling for iPhone 7 units with older batteries.
Some Reddit users report that replacing their batteries has returned performance and CPU clock speeds back to normal. The reports are particularly troubling because any perceived slowdowns by iPhone users might tempt owners to upgrade their entire device instead of replace the battery. “This fix will also cause users to think, ‘my phone is slow so I should replace it’ not, ‘my phone is slow so I should replace its battery,’” says Geekbench’s John Poole.
Apple on Wednesday acknowledged that the company does take some measures to reduce power demands – which can have the effect of slowing the processor – when a phone’s battery is having trouble supplying the peak current that the processor demands.
The problem stems from the fact that all lithium-ion batteries, not just those found in Apple products, degrade and have problems supplying the big bursts as they age and accumulate charging cycles, Apple said in a statement. The problems with peak current draws can also occur when batteries are cold or low on charge.
“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,” Apple said in an emailed statement to Reuters. “We’ve now extended that feature to iPhone 7 with iOS 11.2, and plan to add support for other products in the future.”
When an iPhone’s processor makes a big current draw from a flagging battery, the battery can deliver the current in spikes that can potentially damage the phone’s electronics. As a result, iPhones would suddenly shut down to protect the pricey processor from being damaged by the power spikes.
The sudden shutdown problem became widespread among iPhones in late 2016, forcing Apple to issue a software fix that had the net result of slowing the phone somewhat with an old, cold or low-charged battery, the company said.
The problem can be remedied by replacing the phone’s battery. Apple charges $79 (roughly Rs. 5,000) to replace batteries not covered under the phone’s warranty. The company has long faced criticism from repair advocates for making its batteries difficult for users to replace on their own.