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The Legend of the Frozen iPhone

By: Abbi Minessale Category: Blog Posted: October 19, 2017

It’s that time of year again! The leaves are changing colors, ghosts are freely roaming the streets, and my iPhone 7 has inexplicably gotten slower. Coincidence? Have the Halloween spirits cursed my poor phone? Or is this a larger conspiracy? Is Apple to blame? We’ve all thought it. Every time a new iPhone comes out, in this case the iPhone X, my poor little old model seems to slowly sink into the dark abyss of death. Has Tim Cook crafted a master plan to get the masses to update their smartphones!?

A lot of people seem to think so:

Urban legend:

This is a long standing example of technology folk-lore; people have been commenting on this issue for years. On September 21, 2017 a blog post claimed that a study done by Harvard University had proved that Apple slows old technology on purpose as a ploy to sell new models. This claim, however, has been proven False, but despite its falsehood the article has been shared over 270,000 times. Harvard has never done a formal study on this subject; the blog is actually referring to a casual study done by a student who used Google Trends to find a correlation between the sales of new iPhones and the Google search for “iPhone slow.” If Apple is pupet-mastering a large scale con…we certainly don’t have any proof.

In fact, a benchmarking software company named Futuremark has tested the CPU Performances of the iPhone 5s through the iPhone 7. They found that all of the smartphones maintain the same CPU performance that they started with, even after the next iPhone had been released. Futuremark’s tests also found that the processing chips in the iPhone 5s (released in 2013) performed just as well running iOS 11 as it did running iOS 9 (released in 2015).

(Futuremark found the same results for the iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, and iPhone 7.)

The Truth:

While the Apple isn’t plotting against us, the close relationship between the sale of new iPhones and our favorite gadgets getting slower can lead us to the source of this myth.

Most roads lead back to the iOS updates:

The whole numbered updates are usually released alongside the newest iPhone model. For example, iOS 11 was released September 19th, 2017 and the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus were released three days later on September 22nd. The newest versions of iOS contains features designed to work with the hardware in the newest iPhones, which is why older phones slow down in time with the release of newer models.

The rest of the roads lead back to your apps:

Another perpetrator is the apps you’re running. Apple is unique because of the large amount of third-party software that runs on their phones. In order for the 1.3 million apps that Apple has in its App Store to keep running, developers need to continuously update them in order for them to work with the newest Apple software and hardware. Apple provides developers with tools and APIs that support only the latest version of iOS in order to push them to design apps that will work on their newest operating systems. Apple also has the advantage of dominating the app world, so it is in developers best interests to keep up. These updates make the apps run smooth on the newest systems, but can be detrimental on older ones.

Psychological:

Another reason your phone seems to slow down is psychological. Apple spends a lot of time on advertising and as a result, our society holds a lot of value in having the most up to date iPhone. When a new, shiny model comes out, it can make your sad old phone feel…sad. and old. So when it starts to slow a little bit, it can feel like a lot. 

If you were really hoping this was a conspiracy:

Just because Apple isn’t personally out to get your phone, doesn’t mean the timing of iOS releases aren’t strategic. People are generally want to download the latest Apple software because of the new features, security fixes, and app developments that go along with it. If that update happens to slow your phone down, it will only make purchasing the new shiny phone sound like an even better idea.

But what about my Samsung Galaxy?

iOS updates are released to everyone at the same time. Android updates hit different phones at scattered times. So while the same concept of new software slowing down old hardware still applies, the slowing happens for different people at different times and isn’t so close to the release of their new phones. For this reason, the slowing of android phones is less noticeable on a global scale and gets much less attention in the media.

How do I avoid this plague?

The short answer is watch what number you are updating to. Smaller increments of iOS are usually safe, but venture to an update one or two whole numbers past the hardware of your phone…and you may have a problem. The easiest way to avoid the sluggishness is simply to decline the update.

News:

Speaking of iPhones, have you heard the news? Apple’s newest operating systems, iOS11 and High Sierra OS support WebRTC! That means you can call into a conference on FreeSWITCH’s Verto on your iPhone! To see a demonstration, check out 55:00 in this video!

 

 

 

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