It all started, as is often the case, with a Reddit post. On a thread dedicated to slamming the poor performance of older iPhone models, one user offered up a simple solution. The tech genius, known only as TeckFire, claimed that by replacing your battery you can actually boost the speed of your sixth or seventh generation iPhone.
Lo and behold, the measure was found to be pretty effective, meaning that while your battery's capacity will decrease over time, your overall iPhone performance should stay the same. In turn, this begged the question: Does Apple deliberately slow down its older phones? Well, it turns out that the response is 'yes' – but not for the reasons that you might think.
While we're all tempted to jump to conclusions and assume it's another attempt from Apple to make us upgrade to the latest model, the reason behind the phenomenon is actually less suspect.
Apparently, the company has put an automatic system in place to reduce the performance of some models as a precautionary measure against early breakage. As Apple explained:
"Our goal is to deliver the best experience for customers, which includes overall performance and prolonging the life of their devices [...]
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."
Like the vast majority of modern smartphones, iPhones are now equipped with lithium-ion batteries. The problem is that the battery degrades over its operational life, making it less able to support peaks of processing activity – especially when cold or only partially charged.
As a result, the iPhone will shut down without warning in order to avoid irreparable damage to its electronic components. So while there is no major conspiracy at play, Apple could have avoided all the negative publicity by just being upfront about the feature in the first place.
The situation may be frustrating but apparently it is for your own good. And at least now you know that if you want to up your phone's performance, all you need to do is upgrade its battery. But be warned: if you replace the battery yourself, you will void your Apple warranty. Otherwise you can just wait another few months for the next model to drop...