HAVE YOU EVER noticed that when a new version of iOS is released, your iPhone slows down?
Well, there could be an answer to that. And it could be intentional, rather controversially.
Apple has just been accused of intentionally slowing down the performance of older iPhone handsets so users will be more likely to upgrade to the latest model out of sheer frustration.
The accusation comes via research conducted by benchmark firm GeekBench, who looked into the theory after a Reddit thread suggested iPhone performance reduces as battery life drains.
The drive of the research was that while battery life is expected to dwindle the more a device is used due to increased recharging cycles, this shouldn't really affect performance.
So Geekbench took it upon itself to benchmark the performance of iPhone 6 and iPhone 7 devices running on different versions of iOS to see how the kernel density changes as the operating system is updated.
The firm discovered that the iPhone 6's score for iOS 10.2.0 appears 'unimodal' - that it doesn't change in performance - but when it studied the iPhone 6 running iOS 10.2.1, the phone's performance peaked at the average score and several other peaks around some of the lower scores. It reported that there was even more of a disparity when the iPhone 6 was tested on the latest version of iOS 11.2.0.
For the iPhone 7, scores were pretty much identical across iOS 10.2.0, iOS 10.2.1, and iOS 11.1.2. However, when using iOS 11.2.0, the graph showed more peaks again, suggesting the performance is impacted as the device ages.
"First, it appears the problem is widespread, and will only get worse as phones (and their batteries) continue to age," Geekbench said in a blog post.
"Second, the problem is due, in part, to a change in iOS. The difference between 10.2.0 and 10.2.1 is too abrupt to be just a function of battery condition."
Geekbench said it thinks Apple introduced a change to limit performance when battery condition decreases past a certain point. Why did Apple do this?
One user on Reddit called kadupse, attempts to explain:
"Because degraded batteries last much less and end up with a lower voltage Apple's solution was to scale down CPU performance, it doesn't solve anything and is a bad experience […] but it's better than having your device shutdown at 40% when you need it the most."
Apple acknowledged a sudden shutdown issue was affecting the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s earlier this year but didn't say whether this impacts the performance of the devices. However, Geekbench found that Apple appears to have added a similar change to iOS 11.2.0 for the iPhone 7.
"If the performance drop is due to the 'sudden shutdown' fix, users will experience reduced performance without notification," Geekbench explained.
"[They can] expect either full performance, or reduced performance with a notification that their phone is in low-power mode.
The firm added: "This fix creates a third, unexpected state [which is] created to mask a deficiency in battery power, [so] users may believe that the slow down is due to CPU performance, instead of battery performance, which is triggering an Apple introduced CPU slow-down."
Geekbench also said that this fix will also cause users to think, "my phone is slow so I should replace it" not, "my phone is slow so I should replace its battery".
"This will likely feed into the 'planned obsolecense' narritive," it concluded. µ
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