Friday, 27 November 2020

Apple reduces speed of iPhones as batteries wear out, report suggests

New data supports claims that iPhone 6S performance is poor until old battery is replaced, sparking fresh speculation that Apple intentionally slows down phones

A new analysis of performance data has reignited the debate over whether Apple intentionally slows down older iPhones.

‘This will likely feed into the planned obsolescence narrative,’ said Primate Labs researcher John Poole. Photograph: Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The data suggests Apple reduces the speed of the processors in iPhones with old and worn batteries, making them slower.

- Advertisement -

Following user reports that older iPhones with ageing batteries performed worse than the same smartphones with replacement batteries, founder of benchmarking firm Primate Labs John Poole collated data from the company’s Geekbench program that is run on thousands of iPhones.

He found that results from benchmark tests from the iPhone 6S running iOS 10.2 pooled around the expected performance peak showing what the iPhone 6S was capable of without any hindrance.

But from the introduction of iOS 10.2.1 in January 2017, the data showed five peaks – the first matching the maximum performance as with iOS 10.2, but the following four at relatively set intervals showing steps downwards in performance.

The same was seen with tests run on the iPhone 6S running iOS 11.2, which was released in December 2017.

- Advertisement -

Poole wrote: “The distribution of iPhone 6S scores for iOS 10.2.0 appears unimodal with a peak around the average score. However, the distribution of iPhone 6S scores for iOS 10.2.1 appears multimodal, with one large peak around the average and several smaller peaks around lower scores. Under iOS 11.2.0 the effect is even more pronounced.”

iPhone 7 also affected

The results for the iPhone 7 show a similar pattern. With iOS 10.2, 10.2.1 and 11.1.2, the iPhone 7 results show one large peak at the average maximum performance expected of the smartphone. But iPhone 7s running iOS 11.2 then show one maximum peak followed by three smaller peaks.

“The distribution of iPhone 7 scores under iOS 10.2.0, iOS 10.2.1, and iOS 11.1.2 appears identical. However, the distribution changes with iOS 11.2.0 and starts to look like the iPhone 6S distribution from 10.2.1,” wrote Poole.

According to Reddit users, who first reported the problem, the reason for the performance differences is due to degrading batteries. Photograph: Reddit.com

According to Reddit users, who first reported the problem, the reason for the performance differences is due to degrading batteries. As a smartphone ages, as does the battery inside.

Most modern lithium-ion batteries inside smartphones are designed to last at least 500 full charge and discharge cycles, which works out to around two years of typical smartphone use.

- Advertisement -

However, the shorter the battery life and the more a user has to charge it, such as topping up during the day as well as charging over night, the faster the battery will age in relation to the smartphone.

Two key things happen when a battery ages. The first is that its maximum capacity is decreased due to the degradation of certain chemical components inside the cell caused by each charge-discharge cycle. But that oxidation also causes the maximum current the battery can supply to diminish as the battery becomes less efficient.

The first means that you have to charge your phone more, but the second means it may not be able to maintain top performance, as the harder the processor and other components have to work the more current they draw from the battery.

Fixing issues

In November, Apple began replacing batteries in some iPhone 6S models due to problems where the phones would suddenly shut down despite having about 40% charge remaining in the battery.

It later issued a software fix for the problem as part of iOS 10.2.1 for the iPhone 6S.

Poole wrote: “The difference between 10.2.0 and 10.2.1 is too abrupt to be just a function of battery condition. I believe (as do others) that Apple introduced a change to limit performance when battery condition decreases past a certain point.”

Reddit users report that replacing worn batteries alleviates the performance degradation, restoring the iPhone to its original speed.

Developer TeckFire said: “I did a Geekbench score [on an iPhone 6S], and found I was getting 1466 Single and 2512 Multi. This did not change whether I had low power mode on or off.

“After changing my battery, I did another test to check if it was just a placebo. Nope. 2526 Single and 4456 Multi.”

The reduced performance also appears to affect the more recent iPhone 7 as of iOS 11.2. Some have speculated that Apple dynamically reduces performance of older iPhones in relation to both battery wear and current charge. The data from Geekbench indicates that there is more than one reduced performance state.

Poole said users expect their smartphones to perform either at maximum performance or at a reduced performance with a reason, such as when low power mode is activated.

If the iPhone is slow because its processor performance has been reduced to mask a deficiency in battery power, Poole says: “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 obsolescence’ narrative.”

Apple has not replied to a request to comment by the time of publication.

- Advertisement -
Q Costa Rica
Reports by QCR staff

Related Articles

Apple will pay $113 million settlement for intentionally slowing down old iPhones

(BUSINESS INSIDER) Apple will pay a $113 million settlement in an...

The iPhone 12 arrives in September but without headphones or charger

(QCOSTARICA) Apple's new flagship, the Phone 12, is expected to arrive...

MOST READ

Covid-19 in Costa Rica: 1,187 new cases for Friday; concern for rise in hospitalizations

QCOSTARICA - Alone at the conference table from Casa Presidencial, the Minister of Health, Daniel Salas, made the rare appearance lately to provide us...

Italy to start distributing Covid-19 vaccine at the end of January

(CNN) ROME - Italy wants to start distributing a Covid-19 vaccine at the end of January, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said Monday during an...

Turrialba Volcano will once again amaze visitors with guided tours from sunrise

QCOSTARICA - With a string of walks that will begin at 5 am and will continue every hour until 10 am, in groups of...

U.S. Embassy San Jose closed Thursday and Monday

QCOSTARICA - This note in from the United States Embassy in San Jose, that they will be on Thursday, November 26, 2020, to commemorate...

Pandemic hits employment for women the hardest

QCOSTARICA - The gaps that COVID-19 will leave on Costa Rican society will be profound. Its depth is already noticeable and suffers in social...

The Best Mobile Casino Games Ranked In 2020

As the world of online casino games continues to boom in 2020, players across the globe are choosing to head to the web for...

Let's Keep This Going!

To be updated with all the latest news and information about Costa Rica and Latin America.

Log In

Forgot password?

Forgot password?

Enter your account data and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Your password reset link appears to be invalid or expired.

Log in

Privacy Policy

Add to Collection

No Collections

Here you'll find all collections you've created before.