iphone 6s
An iPhone 6s Kārlis Dambrāns/Flickr

"Is Apple intentionally slowing down older iPhones?" could be one of the most discussed questions in forums and wherever there is a community of iOS device owners. On Reddit, a recent post has sparked a debate as a device owner has noticed the slowing not only of older smartphones like iPhone 6s but 2016's iPhone 7 as well.

In response to the question, founder of benchmarking company Primate Labs John Poole took the time to collect relevant data from its Geekbench program that is used on countless Apple devices around the world. Poole's collated data has shown that Apple reduces the speed of the processors in iPhones with old and worn batteries.

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Using the iPhone 6s as his test subject, Pooled tried to examine the phone's performance in iOS 10.2 (released in December 2017), iOS 10.2.1 (released in January 2017) and iOS 11.2 (released in December 2017) separately. He discovered that the device on iOS 10.2 ran slower than the newer OS versions.

"The distribution of iPhone 6S scores for iOS 10.2.0 appears unimodal with a peak around the average score," writes Poole. "However, the distribution of iPhone 6S scores for iOS 10.2.1 appears multimodal, with one large peak around the average and several smaller peaks around lower scores. Under iOS 11.2.0 the effect is even more pronounced."

Poole also tested out the iPhone 7 in the same pattern and came up with the same results.

"The distribution of iPhone 7 scores under iOS 10.2.0, iOS 10.2.1, and iOS 11.1.2 appears identical. However, the distribution changes with iOS 11.2.0 and starts to look like the iPhone 6S distribution from 10.2.1."

iphone 7
An iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus Maurizio Pesce/Flickr

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Reddit user named TechFire said in his post, degrading batteries is the primary reason for the sluggish iPhone performance. For the record, lithium-ion batteries used in phones are said to last at least 500 full charge and discharge cycles, which is around two years of regular smartphone use.

"I did a Geekbench score [on an iPhone 6S], and found I was getting 1466 Single and 2512 Multi. This did not change whether I had low power mode on or off," writes TechFire. "After changing my battery, I did another test to check if it was just a placebo. Nope. 2526 Single and 4456 Multi."

Moreover, TechFire and Poole both confirmed that older iPhones with older batteries whose charge and discharge cycles have been exhausted tend to suffer from slower performance more than the newer models.