Mobility

No, Apple doesn't slow down old iPhones to force you to buy a new one

Benchmarking firm Futuremark recently tested whether or not older iPhones got slower as new models were released. The answer they found was a resounding 'no.'

One of the biggest myths about iPhone performance has finally been busted. According to recent test results from benchmarking firm Futuremark, Apple does not intentionally slow down older iPhone models to encourage users to buy a new one.

One of the main drivers behind the original myth was the fact that Google searches for the term "iphone slow" tend to become more frequent around the time a new iPhone is released. And while there was a lot of logic being used to dispute the claim of Apple slowing down iPhones, there wasn't a ton of data being used in the argument, Futuremark said in its press release.

To get to the bottom of it, Futuremark looked at more than 100,000 benchmarking test results of "seven different iPhone models across three different versions of iOS," the release said. What they found was that there was no data indicating Apple slowed down older iPhones.

SEE: BYOD (bring-your-own-device) policy (Tech Pro Research)

The data came from Furturemark's free benchmarking app, 3DMark. The app tested both CPU and GPU performance over time to get an accurate view of overall performance.

The firm started with data on the iPhone 5s, testing its performance from April 2016 to September 2017, from iOS 9 to iOS 11. The performance variations were essentially nonexistent, the release said, reporting only "minor variations that fall well within normal levels," for both CPU and GPU.

For the iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, and iPhone 7, the firm found similar results for GPU performance, with consistency reported across the same timeframe and set of iOS updates. However, CPU performance did drop slightly over time, which the release said could be due to minor iOS updates, but likely wouldn't be enough of a change for average users to notice a performance dip.

"Our benchmarking data shows that, rather than intentionally degrading the performance of older models, Apple actually does a good job of supporting its older devices with regular updates that maintain a consistent level of performance across iOS versions," the release said.

Despite the data presented, the release said, there are other factors that could influence a user's perception of his or her iPhone's performance. For example, new features introduced in a certain update may require more resources or processing power, or a new app designed for the latest iPhone may not run smoothly on an older device. On the other hand, the release said, an older app might not be optimized for newer models as well.

Then, of course, there's always a potential psychological effect "of knowing that there is a new and improved model available, which can make your own device seem outdated," the release said.

For business users, the information could be used to forgo upgrading your fleet of corporate iPhones if there is no other compelling reason to do so. For your end users who feel like their phone is slowing down, take them through the data and explain the benchmarking process. If they still feel like their phone is dragging, though, try to determine if there is some other factor that may be slowing down their device.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. A new report from benchmarking firm Futuremark found that Apple did not intentionally degrade the performance of older iPhones to encourage users to buy a new one.
  2. Using 100,000 benchmarking test results from multiple iPhones and iOS versions, the GPU and CPU performance remained consistent over time.
  3. Other factors like new features optimized for newer phones, or psychological effects of knowing a new model is available, could influence a user's perception of their phone's performance.

Also see

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Image: CNET

About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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