One of the major annoyances in the tech world is when your device, be it a smartphone or a computer, gets slower and slower as time passes by. Leaving aside the notion of planned obsolescence, there are various reasons as to why the performance of a device may worsen over time. For example, if your laptop gets clogged with dust, this could prevent the heat from properly dissipating into the heat sink, causing the machine to run hot and consequently to reduce its CPU speed to prevent it from overheating. This can indeed lead to slowdowns, but then there's the software side of things – having too many apps boot at startup and running in the background can also lead to decreased performance.
But what about smartphones? Well, smartphones also tend to get slower over time, and getting to the root cause is very complicated, especially seeing as how Android and iOS are two very, very different beasts. And although we can't offer a universal answer at this point, we at least have some interesting anecdotal information as to why some older iPhone models, at least the 6 and 6s, are getting slower as time goes by.
If you recall, Apple last year launched a repair program for iPhone 6 and 6s users affected by seemingly random shutdowns, offering free battery replacements. However, since further investigation revealed that the number of affected devices was larger than initially anticipated, Apple set out to fix the issue with a software update, in iOS 10.2.1. When the update was rolled out, it was not exactly clear how Apple had managed to reduce random shutdowns by around 80 percent, but the general consensus was that some adjustments to the power management system in iOS had to be made in order to achieve this.
9to5Mac—that offers some interesting insight on the matter, and possibly an answer as to why many iPhone 6 and 6s users are experiencing slowdowns. Basically, it turns out, the software fix that Apple created was aimed at dynamically changing the maximum clock speed of the CPU depending on what voltage the battery is outputting at the moment, so as to prevent the phone from drawing too much power and shutting down. This, of course, means that those who didn't get in on the battery replacement program, would get slower and slower performance from their phones as the batteries deteriorated. Users who had their batteries replaced, on the other hand, report greatly improved performance.A Reddit thread popped up this weekend—spotted by
Here's what a Reddit user reports after running GeekBench on his iPhone 6 Plus:
And there you have it. Apple has been implementing similar techniques for adaptive power management in MacBooks, but we now have good evidence that this may very well be the case with the iPhone 6 and 6s as well. But even if you opt to have your battery replaced, which will indeed boost the performance of your phone, keep in mind that as the battery ages, it will worsen again (if you haven't upgraded to a new device by then).
As for what the future holds for the latest crop of iPhones, 9to5Mac notes that Apple’s A10 and A11 chips are engineered to manage tasks in a different way, by allocating them between cores depending on how demanding they are, which is supposed to help separate actual performance from battery health.