There has been some debate over the years as to whether Apple and other OS systems, such as Microsoft and Google, purposely slow down the performance of old devices in order to attract consumers to purchase newer devices running more up to date software that is quicker. As of this year, the answer seems to have been no. However, it has come out that Apple has been doing this for quite some time, to apparently better the user experience one has with old iPhones.
Why did Apple Slow Down Old iPhones?
The problem is that all iPhones (and mobile devices, for that matter) use lithium batteries to power the device. Lithium batteries are not the best batteries in the world. For example, there is a new technology of graphene batteries, which are more reliable, smaller, lighter, charge quicker and deteriorate less. As lithium ion batteries in iPhones were charged and used, charged and used and charged and use, the battery performance would decrease. This meant that the battery storage capacity would decrease and become less reliable too. For some old iPhones, the batteries would sometimes stop working, causing the iPhone to lose power and turn off, even when the battery is not depleted.
To counteract this happening, Apple included, in their software, a performance reducer for when this happens. They found that when the performance was capped when the lithium battery degraded, this ‘fault’ of the battery causing the phone to turn off would not happen. Therefore, as the battery gets worse in an iPhone, the iPhone would get slower and slower. Apple made a press release stating:
Our goal is to deliver the best experience for customers, which includes overall performance and prolonging the life of their devices. Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, have a low battery charge or as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components.
“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. We’ve now extended that feature to iPhone 7 with iOS 11.2, and plan to add support for other products in the future.
Good or Bad News?
We never want old devices to slow down – it brings around the conspiracy of tech giants wanting people to repurchase the newest equipment because the old equipment is not good enough, when sometimes it is.
However, what would consumers rather want – An iPhone to turn itself off at random times or a reliable iPhone, albeit the slower performance? For the majority they would pick the second option.
What is interesting, though, is that it seems Apple are the only ones doing this, although they are not the only ones using lithium batteries in mobile devices. For that matter, everyone is. How are Google and Microsoft fixing this problem? That is still a mystery at the moment…