Apple has confirmed the suspicions of many iPhone owners by revealing it does deliberately slow down some models of the iPhone as they age.
Many customers have long suspected that Apple slows down older iPhones to encourage people to upgrade.
The company has now said it does slow down some models as they age, but only because the phones’ battery performance diminishes over time.
Apple said it wanted to “prolong the life” of customers’ devices.
The practice was confirmed after a customer shared performance tests on Reddit, suggesting their iPhone 6S had slowed down considerably as it had aged but had suddenly sped up again after the battery had been replaced.
Apple has now confirmed that it made changes to iOS to manage ageing lithium-ion batteries in some devices, since the batteries’ performance diminishes over time.
“Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, [when they] 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,” the company said.
“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.
“Our goal is to deliver the best experience for customers.”
“By choosing to implement this quietly, it appears more nefarious than it really is. That doesn’t engender trust,” wrote developer and blogger Nick Heer.
“Apple has long been very good about managing expectations… this is an instance where they blew it. Needlessly, I think.”
Replacing an old battery in one of the affected models should return the phone to its former speed. Doing so costs $79.
“They should be more transparent about it,” said Chris Green from the tech consultancy Bright Bee.
“You’re taking away performance that somebody has paid for. If you’re going to slow down the phone over time, you should explain why it is happening, so people understand it is ultimately for their benefit.
“But I do see where they’re coming from. By slowing the phone, it does help mitigate the problem of the diminishing battery.”