Benchmarking tests reveal that Apple is not slowing down older iPhone models

Benchmarking tests reveal that Apple is not slowing down older iPhone models
One of the latest rumors making its way throughout the Apple iPhone community is that Apple deliberately slows down the performance of older iPhone models every time the newest versions of the handset are released. This apparently occurs when the latest iOS build is installed on these older phones. We can use some anecdotal evidence to see that consumers believe that this rumor is true. After all, every time a new version of the iPhone is released, Google searches for "iPhone slow" rises sharply. The theory is that Apple does this in order to give existing iPhone owners a reason to dump their current model and purchase one of the latest versions of the iPhone.

Futuremark is a company that provides benchmark tests. Starting with data from last year, the firm tested over 100,000 different iPhone units to see the effect that loading iOS 9, iOS 10 and iOS 11 would have on the performance of these models. As an example, Futuremark tested the oldest iPhone able to run on iOS 11, the Apple iPhone 5s. The 3D Sling Shot Extreme test was run every month from April 2016 to September 2017. The results should put an end to the conspiracy theories. The benchmark tests showed a rather steady series of results for the GPU and CPU over time. This indicates that the phone did not slow down in any significant way during the time period when the tests were run.

Sure, that is only one model. What about the Apple iPhone 6, Apple iPhone 6s and Apple iPhone 7? The tests of those models also showed steady GPU scores. And the  the CPU testing revealed a small decrease in benchmark scoring over time. The small decline in CPU test scores would not slow down user's handsets enough to have them search Google for "iPhone slow" results. Thus, these tests would seem to contradict those who say that Apple purposely slows down the performance of its older phones.

You can check out all the results by clicking on the slideshow below. 


source: Futuremark via RedmondPie

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74 Comments

1. Well-Manicured-Man

Posts: 663; Member since: Jun 16, 2015

Apple does not slow older iPhones down. But I could imagine that Apple doesn’t really optimize the new iOS versions for the older iPhones anymore.

14. sgodsell

Posts: 6835; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Lets see, iOS 11 has grown significantly in size since version 10. Just like 10 grew more than 9, and so on. Also only some new features will work for certain iPhone models. This is 100% a fact. So it would stand to reason that there were be some slow downs as well as some missing features on older iPhone's.

15. mrochester

Posts: 947; Member since: Aug 17, 2014

Of course, but that's no Apple deliberately slower down older hardware as some have accused them of doing. That's just natural software progression.

20. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

"as some have accusedthem of doing." Well, it became more serious than just mere accusations... https://9to5mac.com/2015/12/29/apple-lawsuit-ios-9-performance/ Not sure who's right or wrong in this case, but yeah you have a point, because a OS can't possibly run on older handsets as good as it'll run on newer handsets, though that does not necessarily rule out the claims of Apple deliberately slowing down old iPhone models in order to bait users into upgrading to newer iPhone models.

23. mrochester

Posts: 947; Member since: Aug 17, 2014

It just seems incredibly unlikely. Apple has to work for the consumer, not against. No-one would buy their products if they ran a business like that.

24. Finalflash

Posts: 4062; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

LOL, replacing the google maps app with an inferior version, making the battery smaller, removing the headphone jack, removing touch ID...I don't think the Apple fans need enemies when they they have Apple. People bought all their crap even after that stupidity so they know their audience is too dense to switch.

26. worldpeace

Posts: 3099; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

Err... But they give free case :-/

74. yyzamin

Posts: 378; Member since: Aug 26, 2015

Some people just want a phone that doesn't lag, gets fast updates, every accessory you can think of and great after sales service. Others prefer Android.

67. uncle_gadget

Posts: 1050; Member since: Sep 20, 2017

Really? Windows 10 runs good om older hardware and Windows 7 did too. Obviously better hardware will run the software faster than older hardware. Also, the software on older phones, won't have all the stuff inside foe newer hardware. Their are people with older Android who even after a cou0le firmware updates, th3 device performed th3 same or better. The iPhone 7 is only a year old and iOS11 runs slow on it. When the S7s get Oreo, I doubt they will be slower. This is th3 one and only thing that is great about Android. Because its a VM, and the apps dont run off the hardware, the OS can run almost anything and performance remains pretty much the same or better.

69. Chidoro

Posts: 165; Member since: Sep 20, 2016

Your 3 key is broken.

28. Finalflash

Posts: 4062; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

They deliberately slow it down but they do it intelligently. As iPA is an Apple mouthpiece they've gone out of their way to cover it up here. They don't slow down big apps or games or anything like that. They introduce lag and stutters to frequently used actions. Going from one iOS version to another will slow down App opening times (as shown by numerous tests on youtube by non-Apple shills like iPA). Settings takes a full second longer to open sometimes. All apps take twice as long to load even though nothing changes in the OS update. The phone starts stuttering going between plain old home screen pages. Battery life goes to hell for the release quarter for all models (https://www.phonearena.com/news/iOS-11-battery-dr​ain-is-a-real-problem-study-shows_id98552). Apple learned this lesson the hard way back during the iPhone 3g days with iOS 3 and 4 updates. They slowed it down too much and too noticeably and people complained. Now they introduce small performance dips in regular everyday functions to slowly chip away at their users and their already fragile minds. Eventually, it just "feels slow" and they update.

33. you_sukk_it

Posts: 219; Member since: Apr 11, 2017

well said. thats it exactly. it takes things longer to work. crashes more often. everything feels laggy as hell. its purposely done. and if you dont want to upgrade youre fecked because apple doesnt let you use apps because they force you to upgrade if you want to update to the newer app. and they force app devs to make them work with their new ios and then leave support for older phones. so youre left in the dust. and you cant downgrade back. so when you upgrade and the phone is laggy, tough luck. deal with it or get a new phone we were 4 in our household with 4s and all of them were laggy when we updated and all of us left apple for androids. AND PHONEARENA YOUR FAKE ASZ BIASED IPHONE POSTS ARE DISGUSTING. YESTERDAY WHEN PEOPLE POSTED REGARDING LAG YOU BRING THIS. YOUR A PHONE BLOG SITE. BE NEUTRAL!

35. TerryD

Posts: 540; Member since: May 09, 2017

Spot on. It's the UI that lags. The apps themselves run at the expected speed. For a couple of years now the ipad has had a 5 second delay in Safari between a keypress and the letter appearing on screen. I dont care how much faster the new processors are, entering text shouldn't be that slow.

22. Greenmule

Posts: 128; Member since: Apr 24, 2017

Therefore, with the release of iOS 11.0.1, it can now be safely predicted that the next Apple "super-cycle" will occur. Yesterday at the grocery store the cashier was complaining about the slowness of two iphones

53. cnour

Posts: 2305; Member since: Sep 11, 2014

As usual, a very smart comment.

2. Nine1Sickness

Posts: 896; Member since: Jan 30, 2011

A wise whiney android fanboy once said; iPhonearena!!!

3. mrochester

Posts: 947; Member since: Aug 17, 2014

No one in their right mind would ever have really believed that Apple would deliberately slow down older hardware. All you are seeing if you do experience some slowdown is natural software progression. Who would have thought that modern hardware would run a modern OS better than older hardware does?

4. Jimrod

Posts: 1605; Member since: Sep 22, 2014

So perhaps more investigation needs to be done into what does slow down older devices? I've got a 2012 iPad 2 that chugs along, it works perfectly well aside from a delay of about a second or two from any input (much faster in Airplane mode incidentally). I know it responded instantly when new and it has the same programs on it as a newer iPad Air 2 I received 6 months back - so something slows it down. Everything on it is up to date. This includes basic "stock" software like music or movie players so optimisation of newer software for newer devices shouldn't be a valid reason for slowdown and input lag. Incidentally the battery life on that 2012 iPad is still better than the Air 2, so marketing figures saying hardware optimisation beats bigger battery are lies in my experience. I also have an iPhone 3G that was never used (or had an update) from a relative - it is amazingly smooth and fast so we're not looking back with rose-tinted glasses at older devices, the good ones were still good back then, something slows them up.

5. Macready

Posts: 1811; Member since: Dec 08, 2014

The conclusion is a fallacy, since it only rules out the scenario of slowing down phones by lowering the actual clocks speeds of CPU and/or GPU. It however does not adress the scenario (or fact) that the software updates weigh (deliberately or not) increasingly heavy on the older hardware. Thus indeed slowing down devices in actual daily tasks, rather than synthetic benchmarks... The latter has been tested and confirmed more than once (not a myth..). Again, the question remains whether the code from updates for older iPhones is deliberately less optimized or not.

16. mrochester

Posts: 947; Member since: Aug 17, 2014

Newer software pretty much universally works slower on older hardware vs. the software that the device came with. That's not a new phenomenon.

48. Macready

Posts: 1811; Member since: Dec 08, 2014

Now that IS a myth. Of all the OS (more than a dozen) updates I have installed on my S2, Note 4, S5, S6 and S8, only 2 had a slightly detrimental effect on overall smoothness or speed. But in the end they all ended up as smooth and fast or faster, as compared to when they left their respective boxes. Despite the addition of many features. So no, generally speaking, updates do not make devices slower. Larger apps that aren't optimized, however can.

70. Chidoro

Posts: 165; Member since: Sep 20, 2016

If you had a device that went from kit kat to lollipop, you had slowdown. Period.

73. MrShazam

Posts: 987; Member since: Jun 22, 2017

Now that's just naive BS. There's loads of reports online showing Windows 8.1.1 performed faster on the same old hardware than Windows 7, and I can attest to that on a HP Pavilion dv3510nr Laptop I had, which came with Vista. If the newer software is well optimized, it can perform either the same or even better compared to older software. But apple being a hardware driven company, doesn't bother doing that with older hardware, as they want to force you to upgrade to a newer hardware. This video matches my experience through out my years of using iPhones: https://youtu.be/x0JxHq-nR98

6. KonSkl

Posts: 21; Member since: Jun 03, 2016

It's not about benchmarks iphonearena!!! It's about UX. IOS 11 on the iPhone 6 of mine is a lagfest. Games might be running the same, but browsing and scrolling through the UI is full of lag stutter and jank ( whatever you want to call it)

7. Jimrod

Posts: 1605; Member since: Sep 22, 2014

My SE seems faster than ever oddly enough, iOS 11.0.0 seemed to slow it a bit but on 11.0.1+ it's been great.

12. sleepypandaeyes

Posts: 356; Member since: Apr 12, 2015

Tbf the SE is an overpowered beast with the A9 chipset plus 2gb ram and powering such a low resolution screen. I imagine it would take allot to bog that phone down. I wish Samsung would create a compact s phone with a flagship processor. An s8 mini with the A3 2017 footprint but possessing 5.3-5.5 screen

36. Jimrod

Posts: 1605; Member since: Sep 22, 2014

So do I, there is literally no decent choice in smaller phones, people say Sony but they’re still bezel-tastic and don’t do anything to “flagship” standard. It’s a really neglected area that would get huge sales if any top brand actually bothered making a flagship sub 5” model (actually 5”+ perfectly doable with less bezel!).

43. DanteTheGreat

Posts: 67; Member since: Jul 31, 2014

Well then you're lucky. While my SE is not slower on 11, it is SUPER buggy.

47. Jimrod

Posts: 1605; Member since: Sep 22, 2014

Have you updated that to 11.0.1? (or 11.0.2 now) Mine's been perfect since that, it wasn't buggy before but just felt a little slower on 11.0.

27. twens

Posts: 1163; Member since: Feb 25, 2012

I regret updating my 7 plus to iOS 11. It’s way more slower and laggier than on iOS 10. I think it’s deliberate even if I can’t prove it. This also happened to my iPad Air. If the A10 is as powerful as they claim then it should run iOS 11 with no issues.

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