14 Oct 2014

How Apple updates slow your old iPhone down, pushing you towards a new iPhone.

Ever wonder why your iPhone seems to slow down after a few years? Why the once-amazing device gets cranky and struggles to perform basic tasks or load apps?
The answer lies in Apple's software, and it's a key part of the company's strategy to keep millions of people buying new iPhones.
Apple releases a new mobile operating system every year, and that keeps a powerful cycle in motion. Each fall for the last few years, people have rushed to download the latest and greatest version of iOS, which is designed for -- and, as a result, works best on -- the newest hardware that is also released around the same time. In the months leading up to the release, many app developers furiously update their apps for the latest operating system.
Here's how that affects you: If you have an iPhone that's more than two years old, and as Apple recommends, you've upgraded the operating system a couple of times since you bought it, you may find yourself wanting to throw your phone against a wall. It's likely gotten slow and finicky.
For many, the solution is simply to buy a new iPhone.
It's highly unlikely Apple deliberately slows down older iPhones just to get you to upgrade. The company declined to comment for this story. Instead, Apple designs the new operating systems, which have more features, take up more space and require more computing power, for the new iPhones. And a consequence of that is they don't work as well on older iPhones.
The system has been pretty successful for Apple. iPhone owners in the U.S. tend to shell out big bucks for a new iPhone about every two years (which, not coincidentally, is also the length of the traditional wireless contract.)
But with its latest update to iOS 8, Apple hit a few bumps.
Last month, the company made the rare move of pulling an update to the operating system after some people reported it left their phones unable to make calls and their fingerprint sensors useless. Although Apple said the bugs only affected a small number of people, and the company soon released a fix, the episode led to a spate of bad publicity. That, along with the whopping five gigabytes of precious storage space needed to download the update wirelessly, seems to have made people shy away from downloading the new OS en masse. Apple fans are adopting the new operating systemmuch more slowly than they adopted iOS 7, the previous version.
Still, a huge number of people rushed to download iOS 8 in the first few days it was available. 
Justen Meyer, a 33 year-old who works in the pro sports industry in St. Louis, was one of those people. He regrets updating his iPhone 4S, which he says is now "slow."
"It's horrible. My apps don't work. Twitter won't open," he said in an interview recently.
Before the update, his phone was "perfect," he said. "I was completely happy. Now it's making me wonder if I'm going to go through this the next time I get a new phone."
Meyer isn't alone. People complaining about their iPhones feeling slow after new iPhones and operating systems come out is nothing new. Catherine Rampell wrote in The New York Times last year that her iPhone 4 felt "a lot more sluggish" after the 5S and 5C were released. Sendhil Mullainathan, a professor of economics at Harvard, noted in another Times story this summer that Google searches in the U.S. for "iPhone Slow" spike when each new iPhone is released.

Part of that could be because so many people download the new operating system at the same time, iMore Editor-in-Chief Rene Ritchie pointed out earlier this year. Apple releases its new OS to everyone at the same time, while Android updates hit different phones at different times. (This is one of the reasons why Android's operating system is so fragmented -- only a quarter of Android owners are on the latest version of the operating system.)


  1. This article is stupid...

    Of course, as an OS evolves and more features and capabilities are added, those features use more resources and processing capabilities. Any computer built to be upgraded has a finite life time. Think about your old 386 - do you think it'll run Windows 10?

    Its been this way ever since ENIAC...

  2. I'm running an iPhone 4 with 6.1.2. I have not been *forced* to update my OS. I'm also running a Pentium computer with Windows 95. I have not been *forced* to update my OS. Note that if I want to run the latest apps on either platform I will probably have to update, but that is a choice I am free to make.

    The people claiming that vendors are forcing updates are just dick heads who are unprepared to accept the consequences to the choices they make.

  3. iphone nuts are not very bright., they are crippled devices. no removable battery, no removable sd card. Android is kick ass, BTW, for idiots like Mike Rivero of WRH., he thinks Apple created the smart phone. hahaha, Actually Samsung had lots of tech that apple copied. Most americans don't even know what A2DP and AVRC are and Samsung had it on their phones back in 2004. Apple just recently got in on their phones. and half the hardware in Iphones is developed or made by Samsung. Everyone I know who has an iphone got rid of it after checking out Samsung Galaxy S4 and NOTE 3. And after rooting them , the sky is the limit on how you can trick them out. Try THAt with a crappy iphone. But the US govt loves iphone users. because of they can get into them and there is nothing you can do about it. I remove my SD CARD and battery when going through airports in the Useless Snakes. Takes a whole 10 seconds. LOL

  4. I am on Windows 7 64 bit. got in on torrents fully activated. I haven't paid for sofware in 15 years. Thanks bittorrent. First thing I always do is go into Windows update in 'services'' and disable updates. Updates are tricks and many are back doors. People always update becaue they think its the thing to do. Total bullshit.

  5. I-Phone and I-diot are the same.

  6. Right! Almost nothing what of Apple's products are made in the US. The Apple employees are allowed to wrap the products. That is all. American can't do anything.

  7. I run Linux and any other OS like Windows/OS/X, Android!!! etc. in Vmware.

    Saves time! Each time I buy a new computer I only have to export the VM's and don't have to re-install.

  8. None sense! I run Linux on a ASUS EEE-PC.