Smartphone manufacturers have often been under scrutiny from users for allegedly pushing out updates that slow the performance of previous models. This time, however, benchmarking firm Geekbench has directly accused Apple of just that, but the reason behind it might not be as bad as you’d think.
The usual response to the accusation that a smartphone company has intentionally dampened performance of its devices via an update is to push users onto a newer model of phone, however a theory that cropped up on Reddit suggested that Apple’s decision to do so was more with battery preservation when the battery degrades.
Geekbench’s interest in this sparked due to the fact that battery age and degradation should not affect the performance of the processor, however users with poorer Geekbench 4 scores than the average were insistent that changing the battery improved the score and performance of their phones.
Testing the iPhone 6’s score while running iOS 10.2.0 appears “unimodal” and doesn’t change in performance, while its iOS 10.2.1 created a more distinct disparity, with many peaks appearing around the average performance. This effect only worsened when testing with the latest iOS 11.2.0.
The iPhone 7 showed similar results as its predecessor, with identical results for its iOS 10.2.0, 10.2.1, and 11.1.2, however its jump to iOS 11.2.0 showed similar peaks that began to appear on iOS 10.2.1 for the iPhone 6.
“First, it appears the problem is widespread, and will only get worse as phones (and their batteries) continue to age,” explained a Geekbench blog post. “Second, the problem is due, in part, to a change in iOS. The difference between 10.2.0 and 10.2.1 is too abrupt to be just a function of battery condition.”
Geekbench went on to explain that it believes Apple has introduced this measure to prevent spontaneous shutdowns that affected the iPhone 6 and 6s earlier this year.
“Because degraded batteries last much less and end up with a lower voltage Apple’s solution was to scale down CPU performance, it doesn’t solve anything and is a bad experience… but it’s better than having your device shutdown at 40% when you need it the most,” said a Redditor’s explanation via Geekbench.
The firm goes on to highlight that users expect to be notified of such a fix if it is going to affect their performance, as it creates a certain way of thinking. Users might take it upon themselves 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 obsolecense’ narrative.”
KitGuru Says: It does certainly seem odd that Apple would allow the belief that it is reducing performance purely for sale if there is a greater motive behind it. Moreover, it seems like if this is a fix, Apple plans to stick with it rather than using it as a short term solution considering the theory has been around for a while. What do you think about Apple allegedly dampening user performance in favour of battery preservation?