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Apple slowed down older iPhones before launching a new iPhone model.

Updated: Sep 7, 2022

Apple purposefully slows down its iPhones every time a new model comes out. At first Apple denied this, calling such reports "conspiracy theories", but later when the truth came out, it had to pay over half a billion dollars in damages to the people whose iPhone it purposely slowed down without their knowledge or consent.


Every time Apple launches a new handset people seemingly flock to Google to ask why their current iPhone or iOS is slow. This trend has been seen every year since Apple released the iPhone 3G in 2008. Explanations for the slowness range from Apple's iOS causing problems on older devices to the firm deliberately slowing down old phones to make people buy the new handsets. This latter explanation is known as planned, or built-in, obsolescence. This is the idea that manufacturer's deliberately make their products in such a way that they become out-of-date sooner. By doing this, the companies can encourage customers to buy the latest model of a certain product. This also stimulates demand for products because people return again and again.

Apple CEO Tim Cook.

In 2014, a study by Harvard University PhD student Laura Trucco appeared to back up the theory that Apple deliberately slows down older models of its iPhones to encourage users to buy a new release. The study analysed worldwide searches for 'iPhone slow' and compared those results with similar searches for the term 'Samsung Galaxy slow'. Interestingly, it discovered the term was unaffected by new releases from Samsung. In 2017, Apple has admitted that it does slow down its iPhones after reports from independent analysts started circulating, pointing how iPhones start slowing down just before Apple launched a new one. The company denied that the decision was made to encourage people to buy new iPhones, but said sorry for failing to tell people about it properly It says it does so in order to 'smooth out' the performance of its smartphones when a battery gets too old. Apple claims its doing that because the software update is actually prolonging the life of the phone and stopping it from shutting down as the batteries age and becomes less effective.

Apple’s action – and the company’s decision to keep it secret - led to widespread criticism from industry analysts and iPhone owners. Owners of iPhones in several states in the US are suing Apple. They accuse Apple of violating fraud laws by purposely limiting performance without informing iPhone owners that the problems might have been fixed by replacing the device battery. This, they argue, forced them to spend more money to buy new iPhones. In 2020 Apple Inc agreed to pay up to $500 million to settle litigation accusing it of quietly slowing down older iPhones as it launched new models, to induce owners to buy replacement phones or batteries. (post updated in 2020)

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