While many iPhone users assert they have experienced what is referred to as the “slow iPhone phenomenon,” which appears to occur right before the launch of each new model, it wasn’t until recently that Apple came forward to explain what is occurring. The company stated they intentionally “smooth out” smartphone performance once batteries begin to age, resulting in poorer performance.
Many iPhone users initially believed the phenomenon was an attempt by Apple to encourage older model users to upgrade to the latest tech, as performance issues would likely lead some to make a purchase.
However, what was often viewed as anecdotal evidence of the slow down was confirmed when a consumer watchdog evaluated older iPhone models and observed that, once the device’s battery life begins to decline, the processing power decreases as well.
On Wednesday, according to a report by the Daily Mail, Apple claimed that the update that decreases performance is actually an attempt to extend the life of the device, preventing it from shutting down as the battery grows older and becomes less effective at managing power.
Such shutdowns typically occurred when the device reaches peaks of processing power and the battery is unable to sustain operations, leading the iPhones to power off. Apple said that the update “smoothed out” the peaks, allowing the smartphone to continue functioning.
The announcement put Apple in the crosshairs based on its lack of initial transparency regarding the nature of the software update and how it affects older iPhones, which was never before directly explained to customers.
“Our goal is to deliver the best experience for customers, which includes overall performance and prolonging the life of their devices,” said Apple in a statement.
“Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, 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.”
Apple also expressed their intention to add more devices to the program, saying, “Last year, we released a feature for iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone SE to smooth out the instantaneous peaks only when needed to prevent the device from unexpectedly shutting down during these conditions.”
“We’ve now extended that feature to iPhone 7 with iOS 11.2, and plan to add support for other products in the future,” the company added.
Benchmark tests performed by Geekbench, a Toronto-based firm, captured the drop in performance, discovering that certain versions of iOS when combined with aging batteries achieved lower performance scores. If an aging battery is replaced with a new one, the scores rise.
While battery capacity is typically expected to decrease with age, processor performance should generally remain steady over the life of the device.