Apple Admits: Older iPhone Models Purposely Slowed Down

John Lister's picture

Apple has admitted it deliberately slowed down older iPhones, saying the move improved performance. It's ended years of speculation, but sparked a flurry of lawsuits.

Every time a new iPhone comes out, a conspiracy theory emerges that older iPhones suddenly started getting slower. Critics claimed Apple was deliberately slowing down the models so that people would be more tempted to upgrade to the new model in the hope of regaining their former performance.

Apple has always denied this and a study a couple of months ago found no clear pattern of processor performance and speed slowing down, let alone one that coincided with the release schedule.

Aging Battery at Heart of Problem

However, a more recent study found that what appeared to be a clear deterioration in iPhone 6 handsets when they moved from iOS 10.2.0 to 10.2.1. However, handsets which got a new battery regained much of their former performance. (Source:

The writer of the study speculated that Apple had issued an update that slowed down performance as a way to overcome a problem in phones with degraded batteries. It meant that the phone could shut down unexpectedly if the processor came under a lot of strain.

Apple has now confirmed this, saying the update will "smooth out the instantaneous peaks" in processor use that could trigger the shutdown. It says it's also done the same with the iPhone 7 and will likely do so with other models if and when needed.

Lawyers Get to Work

More charitable critics have said that even if Apple was acting to help users, it blundered by not telling them about the change and therefore fuelling the conspiracy theories that suggested ulterior motives.

Perhaps inevitably, some critics have taken a more extreme position with at least two lawsuits filed, both seeking class-action basis. That would mean a single case covering anyone affected by the problem and with any damages applying across all potential claimants.

The lawsuits claim the update and slowdown was a breach of "implied contract" because Apple didn't warn users about the possibility of such a move when they originally bought the phones. The claimants also say the slowdown has caused them economic damages. (Source:

One big potential limitation to the lawsuits is that they explicitly tie the slowdowns to the release of newer iPhones. It could be a struggle to prove the timing matches up, let alone that it isn't a coincidence.

What's Your Opinion?

Have you noticed sudden slowdowns in an older iPhone? Was Apple right to take such an action if it really did prevent unexpected shutdowns? Do the lawsuits have any merit?

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Dennis Faas's picture

I don't use an Apple phone but on my Samsung S6 Edge, around the 15% mark I receive a warning that the battery needs to be recharged. Personally, I would rather receive a "low battery" warning than have my phone slowed down on purpose. I understand the merit behind what Apple is saying, however they should have warned the user whenever the CPU was being throttled - whether it's a one time warning or one that is reoccurring. Whether or not the CPU gets throttled 100% of the time is something Apple would have to explain, along with proving that the updates did not affect all phones - assuming some people don't use their phones all the time and therefore have longer-lasting batteries than other users.

ronbh's picture

I am sure somewhere in the fine print of the phone that apple has a right to slow your phone down as much as they wan't.
I don't use an apple but that being said I would be incensed if I was an apple user. Last thing I would want is my phone to slow down
When my phone goes low on a charge I have an option of putting it into battery saver mode, but the choice is mine it is not shoved down my throat.
I hope they pay large , hopefully will put the fear of God into other companies that may be considering something similar