Is it true that iPhones get slower over time? (tl;dr No)

Futuremark:

Last week, a story went viral that claimed Apple was intentionally slowing down older iPhones to push people to buy its latest models. The claim was based on data which shows Google searches for “iPhone slow” spiking dramatically with the release of each new model.

And while plenty of reputable sites debunked the logic of that claim, no one looked at actual performance data to tell the true story.

Fortunately, we have plenty of real-world data we can use. Since 2016, we have collected more than a hundred thousand benchmark results for seven different iPhone models across three different versions of iOS.

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

This is a charge that has been leveled at Apple since the released the second iPhone.



  • The Cappy

    My iPhone 6 plus is without question slower with iOS 11 than it was with iOS 10, and by a very large margin. Opening apps, changing apps, responding to changes in orientation. Responding to button presses. Starting audio books. I don’t think it’s that Apple intentionally slowed down my iPhone. I suspect it’s just that the OS is a lot more heavy with whatever additional it’s trying to do. But the UX of the phone is much much slower for me.

    • erikvdo

      Agreed, 100%. My iPhone 6 definitely runs a lot more slowly on iOS 11 than it did on iOS 10. I have no illusions that Apple designed iOS 11 to slow down older phones, but as more and more background processes are added to support new features, it’s unavoidable that newer versions of iOS will run slower on hardware that is a few years older. Of course, Apple doesn’t have a particularly strong motivation to prevent that situation. They are in the business of selling new phones to the same customers, on an ongoing business, after all.

    • CapnVan

      I’m finding some things slower, some faster on my 6 Plus.

      But I believe you’re correct in your suspicions. Also, I believe the linked piece is meant to debunk the idea that Apple is inserting code to intentionally slow older devices

      • The Cappy

        I mainly put in my own comment in case the benchmarks were of the “I ran 10 apps in order and timed how long until it finished.” In which case, I disagreed. Isolated functions… I doubt they’re slower. But you know, if Apple were hobbling their iPhones, they could gum up UI/UX code and leave code used in benchmarks alone. I don’t think they did that, but every OS maker knows the code used in benchmarks, and a few of them have purposely cheated. 😉 The people who think Apple is hobbling older iPhones simply don’t comprehend how much faster each new generation of chips are. iOS is simply taking advantage of the additional power. And older phones are left to struggle. I understand that my iPhone 6plus is far slower than the 8plus.

    • no one said older hardware becomes less productive at running new software. that’s just common sense. ever own a computer??

      but this was putting down the claim that Apple intentionally gimps older devices as is often claimed by the clueless conspiracy nuts.

      • Kriztyan

        As chips become faster and more capable, you will see this perception diminish. I remember having an iPhone 4 and installing a new OS version that really made it work a lot slower. I am not seeing that much impact with my iPhone 6S can i OS 11. However, I do see a quantifiable difference with my iPad Air first gen. It is a lot slower in the new OS. I don’t do much with it besides watching video and occasional browsing.

    • Meaux

      Same here. My 6 has become unbearably laggy since I updated the OS. I am usually in the, “No the phone isn’t slower now, it’s psychological,” camp, but this is the first time where I feel like the experience has gotten undeniable.

    • Same here. I was taking photos recently and the delay from snapshot to saving the image was considerably delayed in comparison to iOS 10. Absolute shit.

  • Matthew MacInnis

    My 6 started to slow appreciably over the summer and has continued to be laggy with iOS 11.

    • rick gregory

      But that’s not due to iOS11. It’s something about your particular 6. Or, of course, you can argue that the thousands of data point gathered by Futuremark are wrong and your experience is the truth.

      Assuming you’ve updated all of your apps and checked to make sure you’re not super low on free space then in your case what I’d do is this:

      Do a full reset in two steps. General > Reset, Reset all Settings. Reboot and see what it’s like.

      If that doesn’t work, backup, Erase All Content and Settings and then restore there backup. If THAT doesn’t work, Erase it all, do a fresh install and manually reinstall apps etc.

      Obviously backup before all of this.

      Now – is that a pain in the ass? Yes. But the clean install method also forces you to take a look at what you install. And, of course, start with updating apps and checking free space .

      • erikvdo

        Believe whatever statistics you choose to, but I know what what I’m experienced and what I’m talking about. There was an immediate and pronounced difference in the speed of my iPhone 6, across the board, as soon as I loaded iOS 11 onto it. It happened with the (late) public betas and did not get any better after doing a clean instal of iOS 11 (final). I have plenty of free space, I’m not running any particularly old apps (not that it would matter, since apps are inactive and don’t affect the systems when they aren’t running) and I regularly update any apps that have available updates. All of the clean install steps didn’t help.

        I’ve been called an Apple fanboy enough times that it’s probably true. So I’m not here to just bag on iOS11. I really like iOS 11, except for the painfully obvious lag. For me, it’s an excuse to get an iPhone 8 (or X, if I’m lucky). For those who can’t afford to upgrade to a 6S / 6S Plus, or newer, I can understand some frustration with iOS 11 and Apple.

        • CapnVan

          I believe that the linked article isn’t about the 11 UX.

          There’s a conspiracy theory that Apple hobbles older hardware, at a very low level of code, to run slower with each successive iOS release. Specifically to make users want to upgrade.

          FutureMark is simply saying that there’s no evidence of that in their benchmarks.

          That doesn’t mean that older hardware, like my 6 Plus, isn’t slower in its UX. I find my experience both positive and negative

        • rick gregory

          “That’s a pretty blatant assumption. Believe whatever statistics you choose to, but I know what I’m experiencing and what I’m talking about. “

          Ah yes, here we have the (sadly not rare) “My experience is the truth, ignore what anyone else says!” bird. They chirp a lot but say nothing worth listening to.

          • Garet McKinley

            You realize this article is just stating that there’s no low level throttles placed on older phones, right? It’s 100% possible (and true) that the actual UI of the phone is noticeably slower. I’ve owned every iPhone since release and have been a dev since the program was started, and I can tell you that it’s absolutely true.

            No, apple is not intentionally throttling the power of older phones to get you to buy new phones.

            What they are doing, is intentionally adding more and more graphically demanding features with each new iOS version. Most of these “features” are subtle and 100% unnecessary (remember the extreme overuse of transparency+blur effects in iOS 7?), but they add them simply for the sake of utilizing the new hardware. It would actually be kind of silly to not add more eye candy in, since the phones have way more computing power than any consumer would ever dream of using.

            While adding those features, they neglect to optimize for older devices. There has never been a release that actually added a “real” feature that has been demanding enough to actually warrant an upgrade since the original release of multitasking. There’s absolutely no reason why the latest iOS couldn’t run on the previous model phone. They could easily optimize and get it to run.

            But they don’t. It’s partially because they don’t want to spend the time (and money) paying devs to optimize the software, and partially because it will incentivize users to buy the latest phone.

            So in short: they’re not intentionally throttling the cpu power of your phone, they’re throttling it by adding more graphically demanding eye candy that only runs at a smooth framerate on the latest hardware.

          • rick gregory

            No, what it’s also saying is that the CPU and GPU performance aren’t affected by the update EITHER deliberately OR as a side-effect.

            Every update there are people who insist that their anomalous lag etc is the truth. What’s annoying is that people don’t seem to understand this basic principle – if most people aren’t seeing a problem and you are, the problem is almost certainly something to do with you, not the OS. But people who whine like this never want to accept that. It’s always Apple, etc that has screwed up, never mind that many of us are seeing perfectly good performance without lag or slowness.

            TLDR: It’s you, not iOS if you’re in the tiny minority.

          • erikvdo

            “What’s annoying is…”

            If you get annoyed by people that believe what you don’t, you may want to consider not talking to other people.

            … if most people aren’t seeing a problem and you are, the problem is almost certainly something to do with you, not the OS.

            This is, in the great majority of cases, true. But there are plenty of times where it is definitely NOT true. I’ve done hardware and software troubleshooting for better than a decade, and I’ve seen plenty of situations in which, at first, it seemed like the root cause of the problem was due to one computer or user – especially since nobody else was reporting the problem, but further investigation proved the opposite to be true. Even you use the words ‘almost certainly’, but then you treat your perspective as indisputable fact. You can’t have it both ways.

          • rick gregory

            I get annoyed by lazy logic and people assuming that they’re the center of the universe and that what they experience must be true. All by people like you who seem to want to make things personal. Knock it off and stay on the topic.

            I’ve done years of troubleshooting too and yes, while occasionally the edge case turns out to be symptomatic of a problem in most cases this is not true as you acknowledge. So, given that, it’s a good first assumption that if one is seeing issues that others are not one should try to figure out what’s wrong with one’s own device since that’s the simplest, most likely case.

            Anyway, since you keep trying to tell me what I’m saying and what I really mean, we’re done here. Yes, that annoys me – it’s never good manners or convincing to tell the other person what they think.

          • erikvdo

            Wow. You say I’m trying to make this personal after you start with “Ah yes, here we have the (sadly not rare) “My experience is the truth, ignore what anyone else says!” bird. They chirp a lot but say nothing worth listening to.” Hypocrisy at it’s finest. At this point I feel that I have to correct you on your definition of ‘lazy logic’. It’s definitely lazy logic to assume that a poorly documented experiment with no given sample size and providing vague evidence is the absolute truth, and disparaging others that disagree, even when they provide direct, reproducible evidence that contradicts the experiment.

            BTW, Where did I ever try to tell you what you said vs. what you really mean? I quoted one of your statements and pointed out how it is not compatible with another. Also, lecturing a stranger about ‘good’ manners is definitely poor manners.

          • erikvdo

            Who kicked your puppy? There’s no need to be sarcastic and act superior, just because you think you’re right and others are wrong.

            You choose to believe one set of data presented to you and not believe multiple others that can tell you, with a high level of certainty, that their older iPhones worked fine before they installed iOS 11, then were much slower as soon as iOS 11 was installed. As I also said, after the final version was released, I even wiped my phone and started fresh, with a new copy of iOS 11, but things are still MUCH slower and less responsive than they were with iOS 10. Therefore, I conclude that the researchers are missing some data point and there is something, either directly or peripherally but unavoidably, related to the installation of iOS 11, that is dramatically slowing down my iPhone 6 Plus. If I were alone in this situation, then I would be willing to believe that it was an anomaly with my phone. But my wife and several others I know are having the same problem and there are too many online reports to ignore. So, believe whatever you want, but there have been plenty of times where someone presented ‘indisputable evidence’ supporting a certain point of view, and we later find out that the opposite were true.

        • Sigivald

          “My 6 started to slow appreciably over the summer and has continued to be laggy with iOS 11.”

          He said it happened before iOS11.

          So the “blatant assumption” that it isn’t to do with iOS11 is … very hard to avoid.

          • erikvdo

            When is it that the iOS 11 Public beta was available? Answer: It’s been available all summer? So, no, the ‘blatant assumption’ is still very easy to avoid.

  • My iPhone 6, with 12GB free, is SIGNIFICANTLY slower with iOS 11 than it was with iOS 10.

    It may have to do with the phone thinking it has no free space. Immediately after taking a photo, the full resolution image is no longer available on my phone and must be downloaded from iCloud to view.

    • CapnVan

      With 12 gigs? That definitely doesn’t sound right.

      All your settings correct?

    • Colin Mattson

      There definitely seems to be something wrong triggering a false “low free space” state on my 6 as well too. Full-res photos are “gone” as soon as I take them (which is itself odd as Photos doesn’t have cellular data permission and they don’t appear in my iCloud Photo Library until I’m back on WiFi), and I frequently encounter the system running cleanup.

  • Paulo Clayton

    It’s a new OS. There will still be kinks and bugs to get out in .1 & beyond versions. Has happened with every OS release. The reason a phone would be struggling is because the OS has likely been optimized for the latest phone. Each new OS requires more from the device.

    • The Cappy

      2nd half, probably; 1st half, probably not. I’ve been using iPhones since the first one and I never upgrade faster than every 2-3 years. I always install the newest iOS as soon as it’s available. I’ve never seen this kind of slowdown with any previous .0 release. iOS 11 is clearly doing a lot more stuff in the background than iOS 10 did. Unless it’s indexing and is eventually going to finish (and it seems likely that would have happened with iOS 10 with its new file system, not iOS 11), I don’t think there’s going to be a big speedup coming.

  • davekaplan

    My iPhone 5s feels slower but I think that’s down to having a 7 Plus and comparing it to that. I’d think that’s because the 7 Plus is so much faster which makes the 5s feel slower when running the same apps. I’d run a benchmark on the 5s but I guess I don’t care 🙂

    • Sigivald

      Likewise my new 8 is much faster than my 6S (which did not feel any slower when I moved from iOS10 to iOS 11, n.b.).

      Unsurprisingly, since the CPU is two generations newer, and Apple’s really pushing CPU improvement in the A-series SOCs.

  • Heos Phorus

    That charge was never about the hardware getting slower or being intentionally throttled (e.g. by clocking down the cpu). That’d be a pretty naïve accusation. It was about the OS getting unnecessary slower or worse – be it intentional or, more likely, by being intentionally neglected on older devices.

    e.g. It‘s really remarkable how much faster (and therefore „slick“) an ipod touch 2g running ios 3 feels compared to an iphone 6 running ios11. They are adding more and more cruft to max out their newest hardware, with the result that those devices slow down significantly as soon as the new hardware (and more demanding software) comes out. That wouldn‘t be as necessary, because not that much hardware is needed to render a beautiful, fast OS.

    Or, why would the torchlight app use more power as it does on an iphone 5s in ios11 compared to ios 10? That light needs exactly as much power output as it needed just a week earlier.

    Understandably, Apple has no intention to care as much about older devices, as they do about the new ones, and it has the added bonus that a new device feels „so much faster than the old one“ (while we tend to forget that the old one felt just as fast only two years earlier).

    Again, this is all kind of understandable, but gets more and more annoying as prices rise and devices don‘t seem to last as long as in the past, while at the same time, hardware seems to have reached a „good enough“ plateau since some time.

    e.g. my apple watch series 0 is just 2 years old, but feels like it‘s already reached the end of it‘s lifespan. that’s kind of insane.

  • Matteo

    It’s a new OS. There will still be kinks and bugs to get out in .1 & beyond versions. Has happened with every OS release. The reason a phone would be struggling is because the OS has likely been optimized for the latest phone. Each new OS requires more from the device.

  • JimCracky

    Apple is secretly teaching ponies to dance. No one knows why.

    We have a right to know.

    • Sigivald

      Connect the dots, people!!

  • DanielSw

    I’ve been a loyal Apple customer since the ’70s.

    I understand the perpetual interplay between software and hardware, and I have dealt with that on a daily basis over these decades.

    I’m always in the market for more features and more speed.

    So I’m sincerely grateful to Apple and its software developers for continuing to deliver better and better products as time goes on. Today’s software and hardware products would not have been possible decades ago, as each new advance rides on the shoulders of previous advances.

    I’m confident that most of us who use these machines in our lives are far happier for their existence and function than are irritated or dismayed by their flaws.

  • totalitat

    Actually, what the article demonstrates is that in one particular way Apple isn’t slowing the iPhones down. In other ways? Sure:

    That said, there are some factors that might affect people’s perception of performance after updating an older device with a newer version of iOS. An update might add new features that use more resources or require more processing power. New apps developed for the latest models might not run as smoothly on older devices. Conversely, apps designed for an earlier version of iOS might not take full advantage of optimizations in the latest version.
  • Terry

    Likewise my new 8 is much faster than my 6S (which did not feel any slower when I moved from iOS10 to iOS 11, n.b.).Unsurprisingly, since the CPU is two generations newer, and Apple’s really pushing CPU improvement in the A-series SOCs.

  • Ethan

    I believe that the linked article isn’t about the 11 UX.There’s a conspiracy theory that Apple hobbles older hardware, at a very low level of code, to run slower with each successive iOS release. Specifically to make users want to upgrade.FutureMark is simply saying that there’s no evidence of that in their benchmarks.That doesn’t mean that older hardware, like my 6 Plus, isn’t slower in its UX. I find my experience both positive and negative