Degraded Batteries Controversy: Is Apple Intentionally Slowing Down Older iPhones?
A Reddit thread over the weekend highlighted some interesting theories as to why some iPhone 6 or iPhone 6s family devices are witnessing slower processing speeds running iOS 11, which led to speculation that Apple is intentionally slowing down older phones to retain a full day’s charge even if the battery has reached the end of its operational life.
According to TeckFire, the author of the original Reddit post, said that his iPhone 6s felt very slow even after updating the software to iOS 11 multiple times. He then decided to perform a Geekbench test after using brother’s iPhone 6 Plus that ran much quicker than his. TeckFire went on to replace the battery on his older iPhone 6s.
“I did a Geekbench score, and found I was getting 1466 Single and 2512 Multi. This did not change whether I had low power mode on or off,” TeckFire wrote. “After changing my battery, I did another test to check if it was just a placebo. Nope. 2526 Single and 4456 Multi.” TeckFire’s battery had a wear level of around 20%.
“From what I can tell, Apple slows down phones when their battery gets too low, so you can still have a full days charge. This also means your phone might be very slow for no discernible reason,” he added.
Last year, a growing number of iPhone 6s users reported that their device was suffering from unexpected shutdowns. At that time, Apple launched a repair program for affected iPhone 6s owners offering free battery replacements to owners of devices. The company had cited the issue affecting a “very small” number of iPhone 6s devices.
However, around two months later, Apple released iOS 10.2.1 and said that since more users were affected than it initially thought, the fix was released in the form of a software update. The company said the update had decreased the unexpected shutdowns by 80 percent on iPhone 6s devices and by 70 percent on iPhone 6 devices. At the time, there were speculations that the update made adjustments to the power management system in iOS.
Although, it now seems that the company started underclocking the CPU in iOS 10.2.1, if a battery in poor condition was detected.
“The increased power draw of the A8 and A9 chips will make your phone shut down when you don’t have enough voltage,” says TeckFire. “This gets around it, by lowering the clock speed, so you don’t have to replace your battery, and can continue using your phone. I just wish Apple would tell us about this.”
TechFire says the iPhone 5s isn’t affected by this issue. Further, iPhone 7 and newer models aren’t affected either, as they have low power cores that handle almost everything.
While the Reddit thread hypothesizes that Apple is intentionally controlling the performance of older devices to make the new hardware look more appealing, the accusation looks less heavy. Apple is yet to comment on the issue.
Meanwhile, those who are interested in finding out their phone’s performance, Redditor Adolf-Intel has suggested that users download the CpuDasherX app to check their clock speeds to see if it matches (a factory iPhone 6s comes in at 1,848MHz, for example) to what the benchmarks are saying.