Why your old iPhone becomes sluggish over time

“The concept of ‘planned obsolescence’ is not a new one: Its coinage goes all the way back to 1932, when it was used to identify a simple scheme by which the government would impose a limited shelf life on products in an attempt to help the world emerge from the Great Depression,” Marco Tabini reports for Macworld.

“Over the years, however, planned obsolescence has taken on a more sinister meaning, often suggesting that products are purposefully planned to fail prematurely, or have been altered in such a way that they become unusable over time. This charge has been levied against the iPhone several times in the last couple years,” Tabini reports. “Ultimately [though] the planned obsolescence that pundits like to decry is nothing more than the natural evolution of a product line that is less than a decade old. Apple is no more guilty of creating and managing a product cycle than any other manufacturer, and is likely to continue doing so for some time—at least until the improvements between iterations start to plateau, as they have in the desktop market.”

Much more in the full article here.


  1. I think things should be built to last. The 90s were the last time quality products were made. All of my Sega game consoles from that era are still in good playing condition, but I doubt a new XBAWX WON! won’t make it past October of the year at the latest. Of course, Apple makes quality products…BUT NO ONE ELSE DOES! Apple needs to teach these wannabe tech companies how it’s done!

    1. Apple is, by it’s very nature, but no-one else is interested in paying attention; it’s not about making a longer-lasting product that will be passed along as it gets older, it’s all about newer/faster/bigger, upgrade now, there will be even better/faster/bigger in six months.
      By which time the shonky plastic device will have broken, or will have an out of date OS unable to utilise the latest whizzy features.

    2. Game consoles form the 90’s are not even compatible in the least to consoles of today. Basically, the more powerful CPU, the more heat it puts out. The SNES and Sega Genesis with their 16 bit and 32 bit CPU’s put out basically no heat at all while today’s modern consoles can put out enough heat to cook a meal if left on without a heat sink and fan installed. Some modern gaming PC players even instal liquid cooling radiator assemblies in their rigs.

    3. Apple is certainly not the only company making high quality products, nor is it free of guilt when considering built in obsolescence. My iMac was slowed down signicantly by the Mavericks update using lots more RAM without warning. My recently purchased ipod touch runs out of battery after two or three hours which is dire. All the iphones i have owned were very fragile, only my IPad 1 has stood the test of time, that has been fantastic.

  2. When I first got my brand new 1988 Supercharged MR2, it was so quick that it scared me to put the throttle down. After a while, I put the throttle down regularly and it didn’t seem so fast. Eventually it became common place for me and I only occasionally noticed that it was fast. Is this the experience that iPhone users have when they think their phone is slowing down?

  3. Apple gives it’s updates all the way to the iPhone 4. Android releases phones that are obsolete out of the box.
    But as usual it’s just let’s pick on apple and ignore the rest, you would think they would be saying why can’t other company’s do what Apple do.

  4. Still use the original iPhone (with no phone plan) for readings books, weather, this site, email, music, etc.
    It just sits in a dock in the bedroom to be a spare device for when it’s needed. Plus it’s nice to get away from ios 7 icons and piss poor design.

  5. “Planned obsolescence” is indistinguishable from the effect of otherwise natural advance of hardware and software on previously-released systems. As hardware with stronger specs is released comes out, software is designed to take advantage of it, but due to increased demands on the system, older models will not be able to run it as well.

    With iPhones or any other computer, if you simply keep the original operating system and the software made for it at the time, your device should run just as fast as it always did. If things become sluggish with that, wipe and reinstall. An Mac from the 80’s should still run just fine, given the software it was designed for.

    I dislike the term “planned obsolescence” in this context because it suggests that the devices are intended to run poorly, which is not true. If Apple stopped improving their hardware and software, they would die as a company, unable to compete with companies that did improve. One consequence is that if you try to run new software on older devices, it simply doesn’t work.

    The obsolescence is not caused by the computer company and software developers as much as it is caused by the user wanting newer and better all the time.

    I have a 2006 iMac which is running just fine, thank you. And I recently fired up my old iPhone 3G, which still has surprisingly good battery life.

  6. FACT: iOS7 slows down 32 bit iOS devices compared to the iOS version that the device was shipped with. Apple was too infatuated with flat washed-out transparent greyness to bother telling anyone before it was too late.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.