You’re Not Just Imagining It: iPhones Do Indeed Lag as Time Goes On

Fagjun | Published 2017-12-31 08:50

The performance of iPhones begin to deteriorate as new iOS updates come in if users don’t replace their units’ batteries.

Is your iPhone slowing down? Don't replace it just yet.

Is your iPhone slowing down? Don't replace it just yet.


Have you noticed that your iPhone, which ran so well when it was brand new, began to perform worse and worse as time wore on? Many eventually replace their phones because of the decline in performance (or because there’s a shiny new model available on the market), leading people to theorize that Apple purposefully gets their devices to run slower so consumers would buy new units. Then again, Apple devices aren’t the only ones that grow slower and more laggy as time goes on. This is just something that happens to smartphones, since newer software updates can be hard on older hardware.


However, the findings in a new study suggest that Apple makes the processors in iPhones with old batteries slower, resulting in a poorly performing phone. This has reopened debates on whether or not Apple slows their phones down on purpose.

Peak Performance

Does Apple purposefully make their phones run slower to make users buy new ones? [Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]

Does Apple purposefully make their phones run slower to make users buy new ones? [Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]


Users on Reddit have reported that older iPhone units with older batteries perform worse than older units with replacement batteries. Because of these reports, software performance analysis company Primate Labs ran lab tests on thousands of iPhones as part of the company’s Geekbench program. The tests examined how the iPhone 6S and the iPhone 7 ran on different iOS versions.


According to John Poole, founder of Primate Labs, benchmark tests showed that iPhone 6S units running on iOS 10.2 performed at their expected peak. However, the same phone units began performing worse when iOS 10.2.1 was introduced in January 2017. According to the data collated by Primate Labs, there were five peaks after the introduction of the software update. The first peak matched the iPhone 6S’s maximum performance on iOS 10.2, but the following four peaks exhibited a downward trend in performance. The phones exhibited a similar degradation in performance with the introduction of iOS 11.2 in December 2017.


The iPhone 7 also showed similar results. This model had the same level of performance while running on iOS 10.2.0, iOS 10.2.1, and iOS 11.1.2. However, that level of performance decreased with the iOS 11.2 upgrade.

“Planned Obsolescence”

The vicious cycle of charging old batteries

The vicious cycle of charging old batteries


It’s possible that the culprit behind this decrease in performance is aging batteries. Smartphones usually have lithium-ion batteries, which can last for at least 500 full charge and discharge cycles. This corresponds to about two years of use. However, aging batteries are stuck in a kind of vicious cycle of degradation. Older batteries need to be charged more often, but charging makes batteries age faster. It’s also likely that smartphones will no longer be able to reach their peak performance, because the harder their processors are pushed, the more energy they require from batteries.


Users on Reddit have reported that replacing aging batteries can restore phones to their original peak performance. Poole also says that instead of thinking about replacing their phones, users should instead think about replacing their phones’ batteries.

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