The controversy started on the Internet, on discussion spaces like Reddit. Many iPhone owners have noticed a drop in performance after downloading and installing the latest version of Apple’s core iOS software. Until then, nothing new, this accusation periodically returning to each new version of iOS, without it being able to verify rigorously nor to detect the precise cause.
But this time, a specialist decided to look into the matter, and he found troubling numbers. John Poole, the creator of the performance measurement tool Geekbench, has done a small statistical study which he published the results on his blog, December 18. There is a marked deterioration in the performance of some iPhone.
The most affected smartphones see their computing time multiplied by more than two. The least affected are slowed down by about 15%. Contacted to explain his test method, Mr Poole explained to the World that his observations were based on a solid statistical sample.
“These measurements are based on tens of thousands of performance tests, performed by iPhone users with our Geekbench tool. The results were used to create summary graphs, on which every small observable variation reflects a phenomenon involving at least a thousand iPhone. The performance test that we have chosen, which studies a single heart of the smartphone, corresponds to the most common use of the iPhone. “
Geekbench’s tests do not provide a transparent image of the problems encountered by users on a daily basis: no test reproduces the precise uses that each one makes of his smartphone. But these measures clearly indicate that many iPhone owners are affected by serious slowdowns. These are probably not constant. The iPhone does not need a lot of computing power at all times.
Apple would he clump certain groups?
The drop in performance does not affect all iPhone in the same way. The models launched this year are spared, the old models, like the iPhone 6s, launched at the end of 2015, are heavily impacted. Of the Geekbench-tested iPhones of this generation, more than half are experiencing slowdowns. Nothing, however, confirms that this sample of iPhone 6s is representative of all the smartphones of this generation in circulation.
Even more embarrassing, the iPhone 7, launched in late 2016, is not totally spared by the problem, as can be seen in the graph below. On the horizontal axis, we read the performance measured by Geekbench, graduated from 0 to 2500. On the vertical axis, we can assess the number of smartphones involved.
When looking at the iPhone 6s chart, there are clearly five groups of smartphones, whose performances are concentrated respectively around the following scores: 1,050, 1,450, 1,800, 2,150, 2,500. These peaks appear very clear, as if their concentration resulted from a human choice. Apple would he clump some groups of iPhone 6s according to specific criteria?
In any case, these performance gaps are clearly related to the installation of the latest versions of the iOS core software: smartphones equipped with an old version of iOS (10.2) do not suffer.
“Prevent the smartphone from shutting down unexpectedly”
Faced with questions from the press going back to the beginning of the month, Apple finally reacted Wednesday, December 20. Asked by the American media The Verge, the firm confirmed the observations of Geekbench and was justified by invoking a battery problem.
“[IPhone] lithium-ion batteries have the ability to provide maximum current that drops when it’s cold, or when the battery is low, or when the battery gets old. This may cause the iPhone to shut down unexpectedly to protect its electronic components. ”
Apple also confirmed to have intervened through iOS:
“Last year, we launched a new feature for the iPhone 6, 6s and SE, which smoothes electrical power peaks only when needed, to prevent the smartphone from shutting down unexpectedly. We’ve just expanded this feature to iPhone 7 with [the all new] iOS 11.2. ”
The answer questions, because this problem of unexpected extinction seems uncommon. It is also impossible to rule out the possibility that other manufacturers will encounter the same problem and constrain the performance of their aging smartphones.
Replace the battery, the solution?
An iPhone user reported that replacing his battery had restored the performance of his smartphone. This solution seems consistent, but Apple has not confirmed it for now. Replacing the battery of an iPhone is a complex operation when it is self-executing, or expensive when using the services of Apple, which charges 90 euros.
We regret that it is impossible to remove the battery from the iPhone easily, as it could be done on most mobiles during the years 1990 and 2000. Especially since after three years of good and loyal services, the batteries eventually end up weakening, their autonomy falling gradually.
Removable battery mobiles have become rare. A robust aluminum shell, inspired by Apple, as a team, now the majority, complicating the work of designers of smartphones. The metal makes it difficult to imagine a mechanism for extracting the battery. The challenge is not insurmountable, however, LG has managed to integrate a removable compartment to its G5.