Is Apple Deliberately Slowing down the iPhone?

Is Apple Deliberately Slowing down the iPhone? - Lovefone, London

A Reddit post has spurred a debate around the iPhone’s processor performance relative to it battery function. Most smartphone owners are aware that the more they charge and recharge their beloved phones, the shorter its battery life becomes. But the suggestion is that your iPhone's overall performance is suffering, alongside your depleting battery life. But does battery life affect the processor's function? If not, then what's going on?!   

What Researchers Say

Results from a benchmark test showed that iPhone 6S running iOS 10.2.0 pooled around the expected performance peak showing what the iPhone 6S was capable of without any hindrance.   

However, with the following iOS update to 10.2.1, results showed that as battery life degraded, so did the phone’s speed.

Recent reports have also shown that replacing the battery for phones running on iOS 10.2.1 or later version actually causes phone performance to increase. This suggests that Apple is deliberately lowing the functionality of the phone. Is this the ‘planned obsolescence’ debate in disguise or is this an effort to elongate your smartphone's lifespan?  

Battery Degredation shouldn't Affect Phone functionality   

Smartphone batteries are expected to last around 500 charges (provided the owner doesn't charge the device overnight or do regular top-ups). This means that your smartphone should last you for around two years. We’ve all experienced the frustrations of a shortened battery life, but what is actually causing those blips to decrease so fast?

Two main things that occur when a smartphone battery degrades. The first is that the maximum overall energy storage capacity is reduced because integral components within the battery degrade. Because the overall capacity is shortened, this means the user is required to charge it more, causing faster degradation.

The oxidation created during this degradation means the processor and other components have to work harder to draw out power from the battery, using more energy, and causing power to deplete even faster. It’s a vicious circle but it shouldn't affect the performance of the processor. 

So is Apple Sacrificing iPhone Performance?

There have been a few speculations behind this the study results. The most stirring of which being that Apple is deliberately sabotaging the performance of iPhones running on the newest iOS.

 “The difference between 10.2.0 and 10.2.1 is too abrupt to be just a function of battery condition. I believe (as do others) that Apple introduced a change to limit performance when battery condition decreases past a certain point.” John Poole, Founder of Primate labs.

Reddit users, having seen the articles, are weighing in with personal experiences of restored iPhone function following a battery replacement. Some even suggesting that iPhone performance actually decreases with the iPhone’s current charge. Maybe something iPhone users reading this article could keep an eye out for!  

What does this Mean for iPhone Users?

Knowing Apple, this is no accident. It remains to be seen what the real reason behind the findings is. Some suggest that the motive behind reducing phone performance with reduced battery functionality is user-centred, preserving the functionality of, not only the battery, but the iPhone itself. Much like with the ‘low battery mode’ setting.

But will users see it that way? A reduction in phone speed and performance could cause users to become disillusioned with their current device, prompting them to buy a new one rather than simply replacing the battery. And that doesn’t seem too user-centred at all!  

The debate is still very much in its early stages, and the chances are that we’re a while off hearing any response from Apple on the subject. However, it does raise questions about the tech giant's motives. Is Apple trying to improve the lifespan of the smartphone, or are they trying to drive sales by indirectly encouraging users to buy new devices? Have your say in the comment section below.

Published
December 20, 2017