iphone

Apple admits it deliberately slows down older iPhones

Image credit: reuters

Apple has admitted to slowing down older iPhones as their battery ages in order to protect its processor.

Primate Labs, a company that makes an app for measuring the speed of an iPhone’s processor, published data earlier this week that appeared to show slower performance in the Apple’s iPhone 6s and iPhone 7 models as they aged.

The technology giant confirmed it introduced a feature to its iOS operating system last year which manages performance on the iPhone 6, 6s and SE to help preserve battery life, which it says diminishes over time.

In order to reduce the device’s power demands when a phone’s battery is having trouble supplying the peak current, the processor is slowed down, although this has the knock-on effect of reducing its performance.

The problem stems from the fact that all lithium-ion batteries - not just those found in Apple products - degrade and have problems supplying the required big bursts of energy 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.

Many social media users have long speculated that the firm limits older devices to encourage users to upgrade, but the company said the feature was used to prolong the life of its products.

“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.

“We’ve now extended that feature to iPhone 7 with iOS 11.2, and plan to add support for other products in the future.”

The feature was confirmed after an iPhone 6s user posted images of a performance test to web forum Reddit, which showed an increase in their phone’s benchmark performance score after the battery had been replaced.

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 valuable 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 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.

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