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iPhone Does Apple deliberately slow its old models before a new release?


macrumors 65816
Original poster
Sep 24, 2012
Kent, UK
- The study was undertaken by student Laura Trucco at Harvard University
- It also compared Apple's results with searches for 'Samsung Galaxy slow'
- Research found that the term was unaffected by Samsung new releases
- Study has fuelled suggestions Apple engages in ‘planned obsolescence’
- Theory states that manufacturers build in a certain lifetime to a product and then it will simply stop working, forcing consumers to buy a new one

Read more:

Interesting article in the daily mail a couple of days ago. Thought it might make a good discussion.


macrumors 68020
Apr 19, 2014
Interesting idea for the study. I'd like to see some benchmarks for CPU, GPU, and network speeds pre and post update though.


macrumors 6502
May 28, 2014
I don't see how Apple could do this without people uncovering it in the code of their updates.

I think the real issue is that Apple holds back hardware specs, and then when updates come to a 1 or 2 year old device, the device may not be able to handle it -- slowing down, glitchy, etc. And so people get the impression Apple intentionally cripples their devices to "force" upgrades.

But that's just an unsupported theory. No real clue what I'm talking about.


macrumors 68040
Jul 16, 2014
Or maybe people are just searching reviews with simple words like "S5 slow" to get to know if it is slow or not.


macrumors 68000
Apr 4, 2011
Austin, TX
I would take anything written by the Daily Mail with a grain of salt. As much as I love reading the Daily Mail I do it for entertainment, not as a source of news.

rui no onna

macrumors G3
Oct 25, 2013
This pretty much sums it up:
This data has an even more benign explanation. Every major iPhone release coincides with a major new operating system release. Though Apple would not comment on the matter, one could speculate — and many have — that a new operating system, optimized for new phones, would slow down older phones. This could also explain the Samsung-iPhone difference: Because only 18 percent of Android users have the latest operating systems on their phones, whereas 90 percent of iPhone users do, any slowdown from a new operating system would be naturally bigger for iPhones.

The important distinction is of intent. In the benign explanation, a slowdown of old phones is not a specific goal, but merely a side effect of optimizing the operating system for newer hardware. Data on search frequency would not allow us to infer intent. No matter how suggestive, this data alone doesn’t allow you to determine conclusively whether my phone is actually slower and, if so, why.


macrumors 603
Dec 8, 2011
East Central Florida
I don't necessarily think it is deliberate, but it does happen
Samsung's updates are just as notorious

stock android / windows phone seem to be improving in performance with newer releases (with older devices)
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macrumors 603
Aug 4, 2011
I don't think so.

The 4S doesn't feel slow, and neither does the 5.

I do remember the 4 getting slow feeling, but it's single core, single thread. The double core 4S was such a monumental massive leap in performance... the 4 just got left behind too quickly.


macrumors 6502
Apr 6, 2014
I think it'd be too much of a risk. If people found out, then people would form a mob


macrumors 68000
Mar 7, 2013
I think it's the new iOS that's released takes more resources and makes the device seem slower.
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rui no onna

macrumors G3
Oct 25, 2013
love my S4 GPE :) , performance has definitely increased with updates
Keyword there being GPE. Had a Nexus S and a Galaxy S. Same CPU, GPU, RAM, display, etc. Nexus S was pretty decent on stock Gingerbread. The Galaxy S was just a major pain to use on Froyo with TouchWiz (and mine was a T-Mobile model so it never got an official update nor was it popular enough to get custom ROMs). Meanwhile, the Nexus S got updates to ICS and JB both of which actually improved performance. :rolleyes:


Aug 23, 2005
Samsung doesn't need to deliberately stifle it's handsets prior to a new hardware version, because they are generally stifled by the software from day 1 ...... ;)


macrumors 6502a
Feb 24, 2013
Notice how when iOS 4 and iOS 7 were released the searches spiked even more? IMO those were the two largest changes to iOS. 7 slowed down devices the most because of the transparency and 4 slowed everything down because of the wallpapers on the home screen and 'multitasking'.

IMO the more telling chart is the galaxy s chart. Seemingly galaxy s devices are always slow. :p


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macrumors G4
Jan 8, 2012
Does Apple deliberately slow its old models before a new release?

It's coincidence. Apple still sells their older devices after releasing a new model. That's just bad business to sabotage something you still profit from.

I've searched for similar keywords for reasons unrelated to a device getting slow.

You also see a ton of threads from people asking if it's worth upgrading iOS or if it slows down the device they are asking about. They haven't actually tried it.

Michael Goff

Jul 5, 2012
I don't think it has anything to do with an intentional slowing down for older devices. Apple is adding new features all the time, and that takes resources that weren't needed before. Ergo, it seems slower. The specs of the phones also come into play as they add more and more features. If they released a phone with, say, S5 specs? It'd be good for a REAL long time.

Not that they should, just bringing up a point.


Jun 18, 2010
I personally think iOS4 or iOS5 to be the best of the bunch. My pinnacle on battery life on the platform was iPhone 4 on iOS4. I generally could get 10 hr screen time usage on Wi-Fi and my iPhone 4 once had a month on standby while on airplane mode. After iOS5 with the pull-down notifications, iCloud, more Apple bloatware, and faster GPU of the 4s and later models, battery suffered since with maybe 6-8 hr screen time usage and lower standby times.

What Apple "could" be doing is no different than what Sony did for years with their electronics called the Sony Timer if urban legend rings true. Put a self-destruct program in there after the warranty expires for consumers to keep purchasing the newest one. Apple isn't the only one that should be accused of this. It's business. Not personal.

rui no onna

macrumors G3
Oct 25, 2013
After iOS5 with the pull-down notifications, iCloud, more Apple bloatware, and faster GPU of the 4s and later models, battery suffered since with maybe 6-8 hr screen time usage and lower standby times.
Unfortunately. Also, don't forget the dual-core CPU. While the additional power consumption might be small, every single milliwatt counts on these devices (particularly for standby). I wouldn't really mind some additional bulk if it means longer battery life.


macrumors 68020
Jun 22, 2010
My iPhone 3G in an AT&T landfill somewhere with iOS 4 on it says yes :p

Probably not though, bad testing and a whole bunch of embarrassing quality assurance failings can account for that mess and as far as I am aware no other iPhone model has had that intense of a slow down. Likely just people being paranoid
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