You’ve probably heard it all before — iPhone owners have often claimed that Apple throttles older iPhones in an effort to make users resort to buying new devices. Of course, Apple claims that’s not the case and it offered a statement regarding why older iPhones may begin to struggle.
Recent throttling accusations first appeared last week, when a Redditor shared Geekbench results take right before and right after the battery in an iPhone 6S was replaced. According to the Redditor, who goes by the name TeckFire, the iPhone performed as much as 20 percent better after the battery replacement.
After the Reddit post, John Poole, who founded Primate Labs, offered a more visualized look at the link between battery health and iPhone performance. Benchmarking tests were performed on iOS 10.2.0 and 10.2.1, and show some pretty serious differences in performance. Apple introduced an update in iOS 10.2.1 aimed at fixing an issue where some iPhone 6S models shut down, thanks to uneven power delivery from older batteries in the phones. That power management feature is what was causing the performance dips on some iPhone models.
According to Apple, there is a good reason for the performance dip.
“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 said in a statement to TechCrunch.
In other words, when an iPhone’s battery gets older, it becomes less capable of delivering enough power to the processor during a peak of performance, and when that happens it has to spread out the power requests over a few processor cycles. The result of that is a dip in performance.
That’s what’s triggered when benchmarks are run — they look like performance peaks and valleys to an operating system, and as such on older batteries the power requests will be spread out. Upgrade to a new battery, and power will be delivered much more effectively.
It’s not all that surprising. As a battery ages, it stops working as well. That has always been the case and likely always will be. That doesn’t mean that the average performance of a device is being affected, nor does it mean that Apple is throttling your phone to make you upgrade. The only thing Apple could have done better is be a little more transparent — a simple notification telling users that their battery is getting old and that they may see a performance dip because of it would go a long way.