Apple Doesn't Deliberately Slow Down Older Devices According to Benchmark Analysis

Benchmarking company Futuremark recently set out to debunk long-running speculation that Apple intentionally slows down older iPhones when it releases new software updates as a way to encourage its customers to buy new devices.

Starting in 2016, Futuremark collected over 100,000 benchmark results for seven different iPhone models across three versions of iOS, using that data to create performance comparison charts to determine whether there have been performance drops in iOS 9, iOS 10, and iOS 11.

The first device tested was the iPhone 5s, as it's the oldest device capable of running iOS 11. iPhone 5s, released in 2013, was the first iPhone to get a 64-bit A7 chip, and iOS 11 is limited to 64-bit devices. Futuremark used the 3DMark Sling Shot Extreme Graphics test and calculated all benchmark scores from the iPhone 5s across a given month to make its comparison.


The higher the bar, the better the performance, and based on the testing, GPU performance on the iPhone 5s has remained constant from iOS 9 to iOS 11 with just minor variations that Futuremark says "fall well within normal levels."

iPhone 5s CPU performance over time was measured using the 3DMark Sling Shot Extreme Physics test, and again, results were largely consistent.


Charts for other devices, including the iPhone 6, 6s, and 7, show some mild dips and increases when it comes to GPU performance. In the iPhone 6 and 7, GPU performance is up compared to previous-generation versions of iOS.


CPU performance across those three devices has dropped slightly, something Futuremark attributes to "minor iOS updates or other factors." "A user would be unlikely to notice this small difference in everyday use," says the site. Based on its benchmarking comparisons, Futuremark claims "there are no signs of a conspiracy."

Our benchmarking data shows that, rather than intentionally degrading the performance of older models, Apple actually does a good job of supporting its older devices with regular updates that maintain a consistent level of performance across iOS versions.

Raw CPU and GPU power across devices does not offer a complete picture of performance on an older device that's updated to a new operating system, however, nor are benchmarks an accurate measure of real world performance. Apple may not be deliberately slowing down older devices with its software updates, as some have speculated, but there are other factors to take into account.

New features that eat up more system resources can make a device feel slower, as can more system intensive design elements and other tweaks and changes designed for newer devices that are more powerful.

Apple's operating system updates also introduce more advanced APIs and technology for its newest devices, leading to built-in and third-party apps that are aimed at more powerful devices and may not be optimized on older devices, resulting in an older device feeling more sluggish than a newer device following an iOS update.

Sometimes, there are also early bugs in the software that need to be worked out through additional updates. For example, we've seen complaints of app slowdowns and performance drops from users who have installed iOS 11, issues that may be resolved as Apple tweaks and updates the iOS 11 operating system.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
40 months ago
This story won't play well in the MacRumors.com community--it completely invalidates all the conspiracy theories and complaining.
Score: 174 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
40 months ago
Yes, but this is raw performance in a specific task. People are generally complaining of GUI slowdowns in new versions of iOS.
Score: 135 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
40 months ago
This is all absolute nonsense. My iPhone 4s and iPad 3 were eventually rendered virtually useless after upgrading the Os after being encouraged by the promise of no slowdown by Apple. The worst thing is the lag on the keyboard. Press a key and wait three seconds for it to register, not to mention a treacle-like GUI.
Score: 88 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
40 months ago
this doesn't prove anything

UI lag != raw CPU power that is not being utilized or made efficient
Score: 72 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
40 months ago
iPhone customer installs new version of iOS, everything slows down. Everything from text input on the keyboard in any app, to launching apps.

Customer complains on forum. Thousands of others do as well. The rest of the millions just suffer through it or buy a new phone.

Official benchmarking company runs the phones through their benchmark software that has nothing to do with real world use and proclaims that new iOS versions don't slow down the iPhone.

Ha!
Score: 47 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
40 months ago
You mean older devices are just not as fast as new ones? I smell a conspiracy...
Score: 44 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

First Impressions From New iPhone 12 and 12 Pro Owners

Thursday October 22, 2020 4:20 pm PDT by
It's already Friday, October 23, in Australia and New Zealand, which means some customers who purchased an iPhone 12 or 12 Pro already have their new devices in hand. We've seen dozens of reviews of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro from media sites, but now first impressions from regular Apple customers are available. Image via MacRumors reader Boardiesboi New iPhone 12 and 12 Pro owners are...

Early iPhone 12 Tests Show Ceramic Shield is Stronger and More Scratch Resistant Than iPhone 11 Glass

Friday October 23, 2020 1:21 pm PDT by
Apple's new iPhone 12 models are protected by a Ceramic Shield cover glass that has nano-ceramic crystals infused right into the glass to improve durability. According to Apple, Ceramic Shield offers four times better drop protection than the glass used for the iPhone 11 models. YouTube channel MobileReviewsEh conducted some tests on the iPhone 12 using a force meter to compare its performance ...

Apple Distributing New Heated Display Removal Machine for iPhone 12 Repairs

Thursday October 22, 2020 6:20 pm PDT by
Apple is providing Genius Bars and Apple Authorized Service Providers with a new heated display removal fixture for iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro repairs, according to information obtained by MacRumors from a reliable source. To open iPhone 12 models, technicians will be required to slide the device into a specialized tray, and then place the tray into the high-temperature fixture for two...

Apple VP Kaiann Drance Interview Addresses Battery Life, MagSafe, and Power Adapter Concerns

Friday October 23, 2020 3:37 am PDT by
Apple's Vice President of iPhone Marketing, Kaiann Drance, has provided a new interview to Rich DeMuro on the Rich on Tech Podcast, to discuss the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro. Although much of the interview repeated points from Apple's "Hi, Speed" event, there were a number of interesting tidbits regarding the affect of 5G on battery life, MagSafe concerns, and the lack of a power adapter in...

Teardown Video Confirms iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro Use Same 2,815mAh Battery

Thursday October 22, 2020 9:47 am PDT by
With the iPhone 12 launching on Friday and in just a few hours to Australia and New Zealand, hands-on videos, teardowns, reviews, and other iPhone-related content has been coming out. A new teardown video delves into both the iPhone 12 and the 12 Pro, confirming battery life for both models and giving us a closer look at their internals. The video from Io Technology is in Chinese, but ...

Images of Supposed AirPods Diagnosis Tool Shared Online

Thursday October 22, 2020 5:24 am PDT by
Apple is reportedly rolling out a new tool to Apple service providers for testing AirPods, according to leaker known as "Fudge," who shared images of the tool on Twitter. Apple appears to be seeking to reduce unnecessary AirPods services by more accurately diagnosing the cause of a fault. Instances of a dirt-blockage, which may be difficult to ascertain visually, can apparently be...

New Photos Offer Better Look at iPhone 12 Color Options

Tuesday October 20, 2020 2:34 am PDT by
As we wait for the iPhone 12 review embargo to lift later today, more pictures are circulating of the devices in real-world lighting conditions, providing a better look at the different colors available. Leaker DuanRui has shared images on Twitter of the iPhone 12 in white, black, blue, green, and (PRODUCT)RED. The black and white colors are similar to the iPhone 11 colors, but the other...

Apple's AirTags Revealed in Newly Published Patent Applications

Thursday October 22, 2020 9:13 am PDT by
Two patent applications filed by Apple appear to depict the company's widely expected AirTags item trackers (via Patently Apple). The filings, which include a large number of images, are titled "Mounting Base for a Wirelessly Locatable Tag" and "Fastener with a Constrained Retention Ring," and describe a wirelessly locatable tag that can be used to determine the absolute location of an...

iPhone 11 Pro Outlasts iPhone 12 and 12 Pro in Extensive Battery Life Test

Friday October 23, 2020 8:36 am PDT by
Arun Maini today shared a new side-by-side iPhone battery life video test on his YouTube channel Mrwhosetheboss, timing how long the new iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro models last on a single charge compared to older models, with equal brightness, settings, battery health, and usage. All of the devices are running iOS 14 without a SIM card inserted. In the test, the iPhone 11 Pro outlasted both ...

Apple Warns MagSafe Charger Can Leave Circular Imprints on Leather Cases

Friday October 23, 2020 3:23 pm PDT by
If you keep your iPhone in a leather case while charging with Apple's new MagSafe Charger, the case might show circular imprints from contact with the accessory, according to a new Apple support document published today. Apple's leather cases for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro are not available until November 6, but a MacRumors reader has already shared a photo of a circular imprint on...