So, it's official. The dark rumor that was for so long dismissed as a conspiracy theory has actually been confirmed: Apple is deliberately slowing down older iPhones. This has understandably lead to much gnashing of teeth on the part of iPhone users, and some smugness from the Android fans. But why is this happening?
iPhone users have furrowed their brow for years over the rumor that Apple slowed down older iPhones on purpose, as a shady trick order to speed up obsolescence and encourage the purchase of a newer iPhone. Previously, this was scoffed at, but we now have proof that Apple is throttling processor speeds after the iPhone battery capacity inevitably deteriorates over time.
Apple admitted to this after Geekbench developer John Poole analysed the long-term performance of the iPhone 6S and 7 and concluded that Apple’s iOS 10.2.1 and 11.2.0 updates had introduced this throttling for different devices. Effectively, the updates under-clock the CPU.
Apple's official statement on this outlines their motivation behind the throttling: it's to prevent the iPhones with older lithium-ion batteries randomly shutting down. This isn't completely unreasonable. Lithium-ion batteries will degrade over time, storing less and less of a charge. Slowing down the processor is one way to improve battery life in this situation.
So, is Apple off the hook? Not exactly. For one thing, in keeping with the Cupertino company's 'my way or the highway' attitude, users had no choice and even no notification about this. No option to say, toggle to a low-power mode but step up performance when they really need to.
People pay the big bucks for the latest iPhone to have a long-lasting, powerful device. Not one that is deliberately slowed down by the manufacturer after a year of use.
Secondly, this doesn't reflect well on Apple's reputation as the kings of design. It would be easy to make a slightly thicker iPhone with a better battery, but that's been sacrificed on the altar of slimness.The Cupertino company might do well to focus more on what 'just works' rather than include a ticking time bomb that turns the iPhone into a pretty paperweight.
Then there's that old conspiracy theory again. By keeping its users ignorant of these manipulations and making iPhones so hard to open and repair, Apple exposes itself to accusations of planned obsolescence. After all, if the consumer doesn't know why their iPhone is slowing down, they'll at least consider that it's time to fork out for the new one.
Apple fans should consider why there's such of lack of transparency and trust between the manufacturer and end user in this case. Android users, on the other hand, might enjoy the warmth of schadenfreude this winter.
What do you think? Is this a sensible technical solution, an aesthetic blunder, or more motivated by profit?