Why your iPhone seems to slow down when a new model comes out

“Planned obsolescence” is the name given to the strategy some manufacturers use, where an old model of their product will start to fail around the time a new one is released.

Why your iPhone seems to slow down when a new model comes out

Some people have suggested Apple may be guilty of this, with reports that as soon as a new model is out, older handsets stop functioning as well as they had done. For example last week, it was reported that Google searches for the phrase ‘iPhone slow’ spiked, not long after the new iPhone X and iPhone 8 release.

But a new report has found this is not the case, and there might be another explanation.

Benchmarking software company Futuremark tested the graphics processing unit (GPU) of the iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, and iPhone 7, using data it has collected since 2016. The results showed the chips from phones as far back as the 2013 iPhone 5s performed just as well while running Apple’s latest iOS 11 as they did when they ran iOS 9.

“We looked at data for the iPhone 5s first because, if older devices are being deliberately slowed, the effect should be most obvious with models that have been around for longer,” the company said. Its GPU performance was consistent 

The company also measured CPU performance and found a very slight drop in performance over time, but this difference is so small it is unlikely to be noticeable in everyday use. 


“These benchmark results provide a unique insight into the everyday performance of each iPhone model over time,” the company said. “And, as you’ll see, there are no signs of a conspiracy.”

While this may be the case, it does not explain why many people are led to think their phone is slowing down.

It might be that older phones are less compatible with the design of apps that update when a new version of iOS comes out. Every update in software is built with the latest hardware in mind, and it may be that this slows down an older phone. Features that come with the update could also take up more processing power, and older phones may simply struggle to keep up.

Futuremark says the perception an older iPhone is slowing down is added to by a psychological effect. “Knowing that there is a new and improved model available” leads a customer to think their own model is outdated. Of course, newer models will be faster and more efficient than older ones, but in reality, your old iPhone is no slower than it was before the new one was released.

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