Has Apple been slowing iPhones down? In the past they have denied this but it has now been revealed that they do in fact do this. iPhone users have long suspected that Apple slows down the phones as they age to encourage users to upgrade, Apple has confirmed that they do indeed slow down older iPhones but the reason for it is to preserve battery life as the battery performance diminishes over time – or so they claim.

A Reddit user reported that their iPhone 6S was slower than their brother’s but suddenly sped up again after the battery was replaced. Benchmark GeekBench also confirmed that some iPhones analysed using their test did indeed appear to have been deliberately slowed down as they were not as fast as they had been at launch.

Apple’s response

Apple claims the reason for this is that their “goal is to deliver the best experience for customers”. They also stated, “Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, [when they] 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.”

Replacing a battery should return the iPhone to its former speed. This costs £79 or $79 (£59). While some people support the practise and say that by preserving battery life, Apple is protecting customers’ devices, others were outraged upon hearing the news and criticised Apple for not giving customers the option to choose between performance and battery saving mode. Others continue to accuse Apple of trying to force users to upgrade, saying that the recent statement from Apple is nothing but a ploy to disguise ulterior motives. After all, as a company that makes money from selling new phones it would benefit Apple to slow down their old phones to the point that consumers are driven to upgrade to the latest phones.

The phones are also slowed down significantly, in some cases the CPU clock speeds were  underclocked as low as 600MHz. It also appears that Apple has been doing this for years, the image below shows a graph of the search term “iPhone slow” and its correlation with the release dates of next generation iPhones:

iPhone slow searches – Credit to Business Insider for the image

It could be argued that Apple’s statement about preserving battery life does sound reasonable as a battery replacement does speed the phone up again, however the correlation between perceived slowness and new iPhone release dates is too strong to be coincidental.

Apple’s lack of transparency with users has led to conspiracy theories and accusations bubbling up over the past few months and it does continue to remain undeniable that Apple has a big reason to push consumers to buy new phones, after all, it makes money by selling new devices. Apple also has a history of withholding new features from current devices then introducing them in the next iteration to encourage upgrades, rather than releasing a software update to make the iPhone 3G capable of shooting video, this feature was not introduced until the 3GS. Rather then implementing Siri into the iPhone 4, the feature was introduced in the iPhone 4S. Regardless of Apple’s reason for slowing down iDevices, the lack of transparency is a mark on their reputation which will surely tarnish users’ trust.