Restart and name: “the legend of the frozen iPhone” ?
It’s that time of year again! The leaves are changing, ghosts are freely roaming the streets, and my iPhone 7 has inexplicably gotten slower. Coincidence? Have the Halloween spirits cursed my poor iPhone? Or is it a larger conspiracy? Is Apple to blame? We’ve all thought it. Every time a new iPhone comes out, in this case the iPhone X, my poor little old model seems to slowly sink into the dark abyss of death. Is this a coincidence? Or has Tim Cook crafted a master plan to get the masses to update their smartphones?
A lot of people seem to think so:
This is a long standing example of technology folk-lore. People have been writing blogs and comments about this issue for at least four years. On September 21, 2017 a blog post claimed that a study done by Harvard University had proved that Apple slows old technology on purpose as a ploy to sell new models. This claim, however, has been proved False, and despite it’s falsehood the article has been shared over 270,000 times. Harvard has not done a formal study on this subject. The blog is actually referring to a casual study done by a student who used Google Trends to find a correlation between the sales of new iPhones and the Google search for “iPhone slow.” If Apple is pupet-mastering a large scale con…we certainly don’t have any proof.
In fact, a benchmarking software company named Futuremark has tested the CPU Performance of the iPhone 5s through the iPhone 7. They found that all of the smartphones maintain the same CPU performance that they started with, even after the next iPhone had been released. Futuremark’s tests also found that the iPhone processing chips in the iPhone 5s (released in 2013) performed just as well running iOS 11 as it did running iOS 9 (released in 2015).
Futuremark found the same results for the iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, and iPhone 7.
However, the close relationship between the sale of new iPhones and our favorite gadgets getting slower can lead us to the source of this myth.
All roads lead back to the iOS updates:
The whole numbered updates are usually released alongside the new iPhone. For example, iOS 11 was released September 19th, 2017 and the iPhone X will be released November 3rd of the same year, with preorders starting on October 27th. The newest versions of iOS contain features designed to work with the hardware in the newest iPhone models, which is why older phones slow down right in time with the release of newer models.
The rest of the roads lead to your apps:
Another perpetrator is your apps. Apple is unique because of the large amount of third-party software that run on their phones. In order for the 1.3 million apps that Apple has in its App Store to keep working, app developers need to continuously update them in order to keep up and work with the newest Apple software and hardware. Apple helps this process along by aggressively pushing developers to design apps that will work on their most modern operating systems. Apple provides developers with tools and APIs that support only the latest version of iOS in order to push them to design apps that will work on their newest operating systems. Apple also dominates the app world so it’s in developers best interest to keep up. These updates make the apps run smooth on the newest systems, but can be clunky or even
on old ones
said John Poole, the founder of Primate Labs, a Toronto-based company that makes apps to measure the speed of smartphones.?
Poole wrote in an email to The Huffington Post. “For example, it’s difficult to write an app that supports both iOS 7 and the new iPhones’ screen sizes.”
Another reason your iPhone seems to slow down is also psychological. Apple spends a lot of time on advertising and as a result, our society holds a lot of value in having the most up to date iPhone. When a new, shiny model comes out, it can make your sad old phone feel…sad. and old. So when it starts to slow a little bit, it can feel like a lot.
If you really want this to be a conspiracy:
Just because Apple isn’t personally out to get your phone, doesn’t mean the timing of iOS releases aren’t strategic. People are generally want to download the latest Apple software because of the new features, security fixes, and app developments that go along with it. If that update slows your phone down, it will only make the new shiny phone sound like an even better idea.
But what about my Samsung Galaxy?
iOS updates are released to everyone at the same time. Android updates hit different phones at scattered times. So while the same concept of new software slowing down old hardware still applies, the slowing happens for different people at different times and isn’t so close to the release of their new phones.
How do I avoid this plague?
The short answer is watch what you are updating to. Smaller increments of iOS are usually safe. Sometimes one whole number update past your phone can be ok two. But venture to an update two past the hardware of your phone…and you may have a problem. The easiest way to avoid the sluggishness is simply to decline the update.