No, Apple does not purposely slow down older iPhones with iOS updates to spur new model sales

“Last week, a story went viral that claimed Apple was intentionally slowing down older iPhones to push people to buy its latest models,” Futuremark reports. “The claim was based on data which shows Google searches for ‘iPhone slow’ spiking dramatically with the release of each new model.”

“And while plenty of reputable sites debunked the logic of that claim, no one looked at actual performance data to tell the true story,” Futuremark reports. “Fortunately, we have plenty of real-world data we can use. Since 2016, we have collected more than a hundred thousand benchmark results for seven different iPhone models across three different versions of iOS.”

“These benchmark results provide a unique insight into the everyday performance of each iPhone model over time,” Futuremark reports. “Our benchmarking data shows that, rather than intentionally degrading the performance of older models, Apple actually does a good job of supporting its older devices with regular updates that maintain a consistent level of performance across iOS versions.”

Read more in the full article – recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: Sorry, conspiracy theorists, there’s no conspiracy here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]


  1. It can get slow from months or years of accumulated cruft. My 6s was getting ridiculously non-responsive, sometimes with taps not registering or just freezing the UI before it performed the action. Missed a few shots because the Camera app wouldn’t open in time.

    Did a backup, reinstall and restore from backup, and now it’s like I got a new phone. Everything is super responsive, as it should be.

    1. There is no such thing as cruft, this is not Windows. IOS has excellent partitioning of apps. Even Mac OS, whilst it can accumulate some cruft doesn’t affect performance. I haven’t done a reinstall of MacOS for more than 10 years. And IOS has better partitioning than MacOS.

      1. So in his case, the reason for the phone’s slowness was something else. Most likely a corrupted preference file or something of that nature. I mean, there must be an explanation why his phone was so unresponsive before, and then, with the exactly same configuration, it became snappy, and all he did was wipe it clean and restore from backup.

  2. My old phone can take 15 seconds just to start playing a podcast. If you think it was like that when it was new you have your head in the sand. And I did reset it and remove as much as I could. It is still as slow as molasses.

    1. Then something is wrong with your old phone.

      According to the research mentioned in the article, there should be NO performance degradation as their devices get older, nor should be there any difference after updating to a newer version of iOS. Your experience indicates a problem with your device, which should be remedied, so that you can again experience nominal performance.

  3. The biggest issue is that once you update to a new OS is difficult if not impossible to go back to the older OS.

    Often people update in hopes of improvement only to find it made things worse.

  4. Interesting that you can’t compare Apple long term mobile OS performance via updates to..let’s say..Android..cause there isn’t much data for Android phones pre and post update 😉

    1. The idea that Apple is slowing down older iPhones to spur sales of new models is clearly absurd if you think about it for a moment.

      If Apple wanted to spur sales of new models, a much easier and considerably more effective strategy would be to simply make phones and an operating system that relatively few customers would bother upgrading.

      We have minimal meaningful information about how specific Android phones function after upgrades because only a very small proportion of them ever get updated and then it is mostly done by the more enthusiastic and tech-savvy users. Android customers are much more likely to discard an old phone and buy a replacement.

  5. The article completely misses the point of the complaint by testing the wrong things. It’s how long programs take to launch and actually start working, not performance at the chip level, that is going to change with an OS update.

    1. Completely true in my experience. Apple forced me to upgrade my 3GS “to continue receiving my email” and after that it was a horrendous waiting game for anything. Want to type? Wait three seconds for the keyboard to show. Type a letter, wait another second for it to show. Apps took forever to load. I dumped all non-Apple apps, re-installed the OS 3 times, and got the same sluggishness every time within 5 minutes. Forced my into a (used) 4S just to get a usable phone again.

  6. I’m unsure if it’s intentional, but my 6s is slower with ios11. So if my wife’s 5s which also resets itself after the new os. Anyone else remember having a 4s? After a certain is upgrade the battery ran down within an hour?

    Apple don’t care about QC on old hardware.

    That much is apparent.

  7. I am not rich enough to afford new iPhones but my 5S does me very well. It has just updated to 11.0.2 while I have been typing and it is just as snappy as ever – with a little extra storage freed up. Since I bought my first Mac product in 1994 (a 6600) I have never experienced a degradation of the pleasure feel, every time I use an Apple product.

  8. Lawsuits of this kind have been attempted since 2010. WordPress is mad at me today for already having provided too many *ahem* useful URLs at MDN. But you’ll find this article if you search at AppleInsider.

    Judge tosses “iBrick” lawsuit over iOS 4 slowing iPhone 3G

    “A California woman seeking a class action lawsuit against Apple after being dissatisfied with her iPhone 3G following an update to iOS 4 has had her case thrown out by the judge evaluating the complaint.

    “Bianca Wofford of San Diego had sued Apple in October 2010, seeking $5,000 in damages for each affected user, claiming that the company had made false statements regarding the benefits of iOS 4 and complaining that the update had instead “rendered the iPhone 3G devices virtually unusable, constantly slowed, crashed or frozen. . . .

    “However, Judge Anthony J. Battaglia ruled this week that because iOS 4 was free update, it did not amount to a “sale or lease” regulated under California’s Consumer Legal Remedy Act.

    “The judge noted, “the Plaintiffs’ original purchase of the iPhone is a separate transaction from their free upgrade of the iPhone’s operating system, which occurred about a year later. The iPhone’s software upgrade was not intended to result in a ‘sale or lease’ because it was provided free of charge.”

    “The judge also ruled that the update did not quality as a “good or service” and therefore dismissed Wafford’s related claims alleging false advertising and deceptive business practices.”

    And so it shall go again…

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