A conspiracy that seems to have plagued Apple devices for years might have been confirmed this week by some sleuthing by some Redditors and Geekbench, purveyors of the popular benchmarking service.
Users have claimed over the years that newer versions of iOS seem to degrade performance on older devices, which many attributed to a possibly plot by Apple to encourage users to upgrade from older devices to the latest version of the iPhone. Geekbench's findings may provide definitive proof for this alleged deterioration of performance, and gives some more insight into why Apple may have chosen to do so.
Some users on Reddit have noticed that devices with lower battery capacities or those whose battery life has deteriorated after a few years of use seem to work slower. As a result, some users started replacing their battery as a possible solution to the problem, and noticed an enormous change in the clock speed of the processor, suggesting Apple is throttling devices with lower battery capacity on purpose in order to feign the illusion of an all-day battery life.
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
Sustained observations of the performance of the iPhone 6S and iPhone 7 over a period of time by Geekbench seem to corroborate these findings, as they show a large delta in the performance of different devices after installing iOS 10.2.1 and 11.2.0, suggesting that these updates included throttling instructions for some models of iPhones.
iOS 10.2.1, in particular, was released after reports of random shutdowns on iPhones 6 and 6S and Geekbench claims that Apple's solution to the problem was to throttle CPU performance in order to stop random shutdowns. They also claim iOS 11.2.0 used similar tactics for iPhone 7 devices with a low battery capacity.
If true, this behaviour by Apple is of course particularly troubling, as the company has willingly chosen to degrade users' experience without informing them. The solution in question also has the disadvantage of causing users to falsely believe that they need to buy a newer model of the iPhone in order to get a better experience, when in fact they could achieve the same by simply replacing the battery, a solution that is much cheaper.
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