If you think your older iPhone seems to run more slowly, you’re not crazy.
Apple said a software feature released last year makes your phone operate more slowly to offset problems with its aging lithium ion battery. As batteries get older, they don’t hold their charges as well as newer batteries, and can have worse problems when the charge is low or the temperature is cold.
The aging battery means your phone could have trouble operating or might unexpectedly shut down, as happened to the iPhone 6 and 6S last year. The processors in those devices wanted to hit faster speeds, but their batteries couldn’t handle the demand, prompting some phones to simply switch themselves off.
To address that, Apple’s iOS software, starting with last year’s iOS 10.2.1, incorporated better power management capabilities, the company says. The operating system slows down your device to prevent it from shutting down, Apple says, but only in cases of cold temperature, a low battery charge or very old batteries.
Instead of your processor completing a task immediately, it will spread that out over more attempts to help manage the power consumption.
You may be wondering why we can’t simply get better batteries. So do consumer electronics companies, which have thrown millions of dollars at the problem, with very little to show for it. An advanced battery startup in California, Envia Systems, a few years ago did some research and found that it took more than a decade, from 1995 to 2007, to double the energy stored in a battery — and since then it hasn’t even risen by 30 percent.
Meanwhile, smartphone users continue to look for ways to set things right when their batteries start wheezing and sputtering. Over on Reddit, for instance, the discussion has turned to whether it makes sense to replace an iPhone battery, how to do so and what the consequences might be.
Apple’s software from last year applied to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, 6S and 6S Plus and SE. This year’s iOS 11.2 extended the feature to the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. It will be applied to other Apple devices in the future.