Arstechnica confirms big performance hit on iPhone 4S

masands

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 17, 2010
247
78
It's getting more and more obvious that Apple slows down older iPhones with each iteration.

http://arstechnica.com/apple/2014/09/ios-8-on-the-iphone-4s-performance-isnt-the-only-problem/
 

Roller

macrumors 68030
Jun 25, 2003
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I just read the article and that's not the message I came away with. It said that some iOS 8 features will be missing and that performance will lag, but concluded that "in our opinion getting the new stuff is worth putting up with the small slowdowns you'll experience."
 

thejadedmonkey

macrumors 604
May 28, 2005
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Did you even read the article? Apple don't "slow down older phones", rather the operating system advances and becomes more complex with each new generation of phones.
Well, Microsoft can write an OS that performs well on lower end hardware. Something like 512mb of RAM and a 1ghz CPU. So it's quite possible to write an OS that performs well on the 4s, Apple just doesn't want to. And if Apple is choosing not to optimize for older hardware such as the 4s, that's the same as purposefully slowing it down in my book.
 

GreyOS

macrumors 68040
Apr 12, 2012
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I dunno, I think Ars is apologising for Apple too much. They've done very little investigation here other than the raw data.

I'm not saying this is a huge scandal and Apple are going out of their way to slow older devices. But I would really like to know what is causing this slow down, because it seems a bit careless if you ask me.

iOS 7 added a new, more graphically intense UI and added background app refresh. I was willing to accept the slow down we saw on the 4 as a result of genuine advancements in the software. We saw that Apple were able to optimise the raw new features in 7.0 for its 7.1 release, because the 4 sped up a little bit with that.

iOS 8 brings a bunch of new features. But it's more or less the same UI, which I had hoped would be further refined and optimised for all devices. So why is the 4S laggier? No new background app refresh features or processor intensive features have been brought to iOS 8 for the 4S as far as I know. Why these generalised slow downs opening apps?

Is it because of extra checks for extensions and widgets when loading apps? Because we're talking about a phone that doesn't have any extensions of widgets installed yet.

I really hoped we'd see a tick-tock style release with iOS 8, in that it could truly optimise everything it introduced raw in iOS 7, and any new features for iOS 8 would not hit performance too hard.

I'm honestly a bit surprised about these slow downs for the 4S. I would love to hear about the iOS 8 features and code changes that may have caused this, if anyone has any ideas.

Also, why stop with the 4S? I would love to see Ars do a breakdown for the 5 and the 5S. Do these take similar hits?


edit: Simplest example. Someone tell me what has changed so much in the Settings app, or what has changed so much in the general running of the OS, which means the Settings app takes 32% longer to open?
 
Last edited:

cg399

macrumors member
Sep 3, 2012
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0
Hurghada, Egypt
Well, Microsoft can write an OS that performs well on lower end hardware. Something like 512mb of RAM and a 1ghz CPU. So it's quite possible to write an OS that performs well on the 4s, Apple just doesn't want to. And if Apple is choosing not to optimize for older hardware such as the 4s, that's the same as purposefully slowing it down in my book.

Well in my opinion Microsoft can't write an operating system that performs well on high-end hardware...

But that's not the issue. The point is you can choose - new features with an inevitable performance hit, or don't upgrade. Simple.
 

chrono1081

macrumors 604
Jan 26, 2008
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Well, Microsoft can write an OS that performs well on lower end hardware. Something like 512mb of RAM and a 1ghz CPU. So it's quite possible to write an OS that performs well on the 4s, Apple just doesn't want to. And if Apple is choosing not to optimize for older hardware such as the 4s, that's the same as purposefully slowing it down in my book.
A phone OS is MUCH different than an desktop OS. Desktop OS's can turn things off like graphical effects and whatnot where as Phone OS's are "You get what you see".
 

chekz0414

macrumors 6502a
Jul 3, 2011
767
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I dunno, I think Ars is apologising for Apple too much.

I'm not saying this is a huge scandal and Apple are going out of their way to slow older devices. But I would really like to know what is causing this slow down, because it seems a bit careless if you ask me.

iOS 7 added a new, more graphically intense UI and added background app refresh. I was willing to accept the slow down we saw on the 4 as a result of genuine advancements in the software. We saw that Apple were able to optimise the raw new features in 7.0 for its 7.1 release, because the 4 sped up a little bit with that.

iOS 8 brings a bunch of new features. But it's more or less the same UI, which I had hoped would be further refined and optimised for all devices. So why is the 4S laggier? No new background app refresh features or processor intensive features have been brought to iOS 8 for the 4S as far as I know. Why these generalised slow downs opening apps?

Is it because of extra checks for extensions and widgets when loading apps? Because we're talking about a phone that doesn't have any extensions of widgets installed yet.

I really hoped we'd see a tick-tock style release with iOS 8, in that it could truly optimise everything it introduced raw in iOS 7, and any new features for iOS 8 would not hit performance too hard.

I'm honestly a bit surprised about these slow downs for the 4S. I would love to hear about the iOS 8 features and code changes that may have caused this, if anyone has any ideas.

Also, why stop with the 4S? I would love to see Ars do a breakdown for the 5 and the 5S. Do these take similar hits?


edit: Simplest example. Someone tell me what has changed so much in the Settings app, or what has changed so much in the general running of the OS, which means the Settings app takes 32% longer to open?


All iPads and iPhones that can run 8.0 are taking a performance hit, even the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus if you've read the reviews. I expect 8.0.1 soon, and as for 8.0 it will be the last for the 4s as it seems Apple will make 1GB of RAM an iOS baseline for future iterations
 

zorinlynx

macrumors 603
May 31, 2007
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Newer operating systems always run more slowly on older hardware.

It was like that when Windows 95 came out and people installed it on 486 systems with 4MB of RAM.

It was like that when XP came out and people thought it would run well on Pentium 75MHz machines.

It was like that when Mac OS X came out and people installed it on older beige PowerMacs.

It will ALWAYS be like that. Yes, it sucks, but that's the way the tech industry *IS*. It's not a conspiracy to get you to buy new hardware. Microsoft didn't profit from the above examples, yet it happened anyway.

One of the plus sides of Moore's Law flattening out is that this effect won't be as severe as it used to be. The fact that OS X runs acceptably on Macs from five years ago is a testament to that. But it will still happen for as long as hardware keeps getting faster with each release.

Game over.
 

ghall

macrumors 68040
Jun 27, 2006
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Each version of iOS has more features, which use more resources than the previous version. It's not some nefarious scheme by Apple, it's the cost of progress in technology, it always has been. This is also why after awhile Apple has to drop support for devices eventually.

Apple does what it can to get the latest software to run well on as many devices as possible.
 

thejadedmonkey

macrumors 604
May 28, 2005
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Pennsylvania
A phone OS is MUCH different than an desktop OS. Desktop OS's can turn things off like graphical effects and whatnot where as Phone OS's are "You get what you see".
I was talking about Windows Phone, not Windows for Desktops. But if you want to discuss desktop class OS's, see my reply to zorinlynx below.

Newer operating systems always run more slowly on older hardware.

It was like that when Windows 95 came out and people installed it on 486 systems with 4MB of RAM.

It was like that when XP came out and people thought it would run well on Pentium 75MHz machines.

It was like that when Mac OS X came out and people installed it on older beige PowerMacs.

It will ALWAYS be like that. Yes, it sucks, but that's the way the tech industry *IS*. It's not a conspiracy to get you to buy new hardware. Microsoft didn't profit from the above examples, yet it happened anyway.
But it wasn't like that when Windows 7 came out, and Windows 8 was arguably faster on slower hardware than 7 was. And going from 10.5 to 10.6 was a speed increase despite all of the changes that were done for Snow Leopard.

The issue isn't that the OS gets "more advanced" and needs more requirements, the issue is that Apple just doesn't bother to optimize their OS, as they have an incentive to make it run slower on old hardware.

One of the plus sides of Moore's Law flattening out is that this effect won't be as severe as it used to be. The fact that OS X runs acceptably on Macs from five years ago is a testament to that. But it will still happen for as long as hardware keeps getting faster with each release.

Game over.
By your own logic, as OS's get more advanced and require more CPU speed, the flattening out of Moore's law should mean that the newest OS on even the best hardware will be laggy, because the software will be too advanced for the hardware it's running on.
 

Ries

macrumors 68020
Apr 21, 2007
2,095
2,441
Newer operating systems always run more slowly on older hardware.

It was like that when Windows 95 came out and people installed it on 486 systems with 4MB of RAM.

It was like that when XP came out and people thought it would run well on Pentium 75MHz machines.

It was like that when Mac OS X came out and people installed it on older beige PowerMacs.

It will ALWAYS be like that. Yes, it sucks, but that's the way the tech industry *IS*. It's not a conspiracy to get you to buy new hardware. Microsoft didn't profit from the above examples, yet it happened anyway.

One of the plus sides of Moore's Law flattening out is that this effect won't be as severe as it used to be. The fact that OS X runs acceptably on Macs from five years ago is a testament to that. But it will still happen for as long as hardware keeps getting faster with each release.

Game over.
Other than more complex animations, there isn't really anything that should cause a performance hit.
 

Ffosse

macrumors 68000
Nov 5, 2012
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I think it's good of Apple offering updates for a device that's 3 years old.
 

BenTrovato

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Jun 29, 2012
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The issue isn't that the OS gets "more advanced" and needs more requirements, the issue is that Apple just doesn't bother to optimize their OS, as they have an incentive to make it run slower on old hardware.
This should end the debate I would think. Just throwing it out there since this is a somewhat techie forum... any programming can be optimized to run on any hardware it should be somewhat common knowledge. If they did optimize their programming no one would buy new devices - or not nearly as many people would pony up for a new device.
 

chrono1081

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Jan 26, 2008
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This should end the debate I would think. Just throwing it out there since this is a somewhat techie forum... any programming can be optimized to run on any hardware it should be somewhat common knowledge. If they did optimize their programming no one would buy new devices - or not nearly as many people would pony up for a new device.
No this isn't the case at all. These conspiracy theories are silly.

Every OS in the history of computing that has came out has newer features which require more resources. Apple is all about user experience and they're not going to cut features just to work on much older hardware.

You cannot optimize your code to work on any hardware either, the hardware has to support what your code is doing. If the hardware can't support it then you have to cut the feature.

Four generations of mobile hardware compatibility is pretty generous.
 

GreyOS

macrumors 68040
Apr 12, 2012
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Every OS in the history of computing that has came out has newer features which require more resources. Apple is all about user experience and they're not going to cut features just to work on much older hardware.
It's lazy to simply state this as if there is nothing else to further enquire about.

Look at what Ars says just before they introduce their findings:

"We were expecting speed to stay roughly the same in the jump from iOS 7 to iOS 8, more or less as it did when we moved from iOS 5 to iOS 6 on the 3GS."

Ars is a tech news site, its writers should be well aware of the features planned for iOS 8. So why did they expect the speed to say roughly the same? Furthermore, if it's so obvious that OS updates always require significantly more resources, then what happened with the iOS 5 to iOS 6 upgrade which didn't affect the 3GS that much?

What Ars then does is quite astonishing. So it finds that the 4S slowed down more than they expected. They briefly describe it as "odd" but more or less go on to justify it by saying that iOS 8 has more features.

Lazy journalism. They seem completely uninterested in discovering or discussing which features might be responsible for it.

But people in this thread are going even further in apologising it. Ars mostly just glossed over it, many of you are saying it's expected.
 

Imory

macrumors 6502a
Feb 2, 2013
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I dunno, I think Ars is apologising for Apple too much. They've done very little investigation here other than the raw data.

I'm not saying this is a huge scandal and Apple are going out of their way to slow older devices. But I would really like to know what is causing this slow down, because it seems a bit careless if you ask me.

iOS 7 added a new, more graphically intense UI and added background app refresh. I was willing to accept the slow down we saw on the 4 as a result of genuine advancements in the software. We saw that Apple were able to optimise the raw new features in 7.0 for its 7.1 release, because the 4 sped up a little bit with that.

iOS 8 brings a bunch of new features. But it's more or less the same UI, which I had hoped would be further refined and optimised for all devices. So why is the 4S laggier? No new background app refresh features or processor intensive features have been brought to iOS 8 for the 4S as far as I know. Why these generalised slow downs opening apps?

Is it because of extra checks for extensions and widgets when loading apps? Because we're talking about a phone that doesn't have any extensions of widgets installed yet.

I really hoped we'd see a tick-tock style release with iOS 8, in that it could truly optimise everything it introduced raw in iOS 7, and any new features for iOS 8 would not hit performance too hard.

I'm honestly a bit surprised about these slow downs for the 4S. I would love to hear about the iOS 8 features and code changes that may have caused this, if anyone has any ideas.

Also, why stop with the 4S? I would love to see Ars do a breakdown for the 5 and the 5S. Do these take similar hits?


edit: Simplest example. Someone tell me what has changed so much in the Settings app, or what has changed so much in the general running of the OS, which means the Settings app takes 32% longer to open?
Performance on A6 and A7 chips should be good according to Ars. Surprisingly though, the javascript performance (sunspider) is slightly slower across all devices, however they do perform better (small increase) on Google Octane and Kraken.
 

sanke1

macrumors 65816
Nov 9, 2010
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The only statement from the article which caught me is this.
It's odd, because although the applications themselves have added features, the GPU shouldn't really be working harder to render stuff in iOS 8 than it had to in iOS 7.
It hits nail on Apple's planned obsolescence strategy perfectly.
 

oldmacs

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Sep 14, 2010
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I think its more of a case of not enough time to optimise stuff thats designed for the A7... iOS 8.1 will help I'm sure. There are a massive number of people still on A5 devices.
 

thedeejay

macrumors 65816
Aug 16, 2012
1,338
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Toronto, Canada.
I dunno, I think Ars is apologising for Apple too much. They've done very little investigation here other than the raw data.

I'm not saying this is a huge scandal and Apple are going out of their way to slow older devices. But I would really like to know what is causing this slow down, because it seems a bit careless if you ask me.

iOS 7 added a new, more graphically intense UI and added background app refresh. I was willing to accept the slow down we saw on the 4 as a result of genuine advancements in the software. We saw that Apple were able to optimise the raw new features in 7.0 for its 7.1 release, because the 4 sped up a little bit with that.

iOS 8 brings a bunch of new features. But it's more or less the same UI, which I had hoped would be further refined and optimised for all devices. So why is the 4S laggier? No new background app refresh features or processor intensive features have been brought to iOS 8 for the 4S as far as I know. Why these generalised slow downs opening apps?

Is it because of extra checks for extensions and widgets when loading apps? Because we're talking about a phone that doesn't have any extensions of widgets installed yet.

I really hoped we'd see a tick-tock style release with iOS 8, in that it could truly optimise everything it introduced raw in iOS 7, and any new features for iOS 8 would not hit performance too hard.

I'm honestly a bit surprised about these slow downs for the 4S. I would love to hear about the iOS 8 features and code changes that may have caused this, if anyone has any ideas.

Also, why stop with the 4S? I would love to see Ars do a breakdown for the 5 and the 5S. Do these take similar hits?


edit: Simplest example. Someone tell me what has changed so much in the Settings app, or what has changed so much in the general running of the OS, which means the Settings app takes 32% longer to open?
I agree with your point. As much as we love Apple, we must also look at it from the other perspective. Well of course one reason would be to consolidate the line of phones (all running lightning cables). Second, probably to get people to upgrade faster - they'd rather people upgrade from their previous iPhone on a yearly cycle as opposed to every 2 or 3 years. Some of the folks on this forum are Apple's ideal customer; upgrade every iPhone that comes out. Not bashing anyone but simply stating it is what Apple would want from majority of their customer base.
 

chekz0414

macrumors 6502a
Jul 3, 2011
767
96
FL
Performance on A6 and A7 chips should be good according to Ars. Surprisingly though, the javascript performance (sunspider) is slightly slower across all devices, however they do perform better (small increase) on Google Octane and Kraken.
The A5-A8 are all struggling though, and I think it has to do with 8.0 not being done yet, there are plenty of bugs in this GM that have not been changed from even prior beta versions.
 

oldmacs

macrumors 601
Sep 14, 2010
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Australia
The A5-A8 are all struggling though, and I think it has to do with 8.0 not being done yet, there are plenty of bugs in this GM that have not been changed from even prior beta versions.

I think it needed longer in beta tbh. Apple better clean up its act and get it working better on the A5 devices, and it better no take 6 months!!