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Smartphones & gadgets

True or false: Apple and Google slow down older phones when a new model is released

Smartphones are responsible for our expectation of instant gratification. Whether you are or what you’re doing, you can whip out your phone and look up anything. Use Google to back up your argument with your spouse. Check out Yelp reviews to find the best sandwich in town. Place an online order for that trinket you saw in a store window and get it at a lower price.

When it comes to phones, we require speed. Upgrading to a newer phone will certainly help, but your old one might not be to blame if it’s running at a relative snail’s pace. Your favorite apps could be the main culprit. Tap or click here to check out apps that slow down your phone.

You’ve probably heard people say they noticed a decline in their phone’s performance when the next generation is released. It turns out that this is true, but it’s not part of a conspiracy to make you buy a new phone. The answer is a bit more technical than that.

Apple in hot water

In 2017, Apple admitted to slowing down older phones and paid for doing so in a series of lawsuits and settlements. While people claimed it was a scam to force customers to upgrade, Apple had its reasons.

When a new iPhone is released, it comes with a new iOS. The operating system is faster and more significant than the previous version and demands more processing power. When you update an older phone to the new OS, the higher demand degrades the battery and shortens its life. A more recent phone with beefier hardware won’t feel this strain.

Apple slows down older iPhone’s performance to preserve battery life in the long term. To appease the populace, the company introduced a performance management feature in iOS 11.3.

This system periodically assesses how well the battery can support the phone’s power requirements. If the battery is doing well, phone performance remains stable. If the battery is struggling or a shutdown occurs, the performance of the GPU, CPU and other functions will be lowered.

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Turning off performance management

You can check out how your battery is doing by going to Settings > Battery > Battery Health. If your phone experienced an unexpected shutdown due to an overburdened battery, you’d see a message saying so under Peak Performance Capability. In this case, you can tap Disable to turn off the performance management feature.

Note that if you disable performance management, you can’t turn it back on. It will activate automatically if another shutdown occurs, at which time you will have the option to disable it again.

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Are Android phone manufacturers also guilty?

The answer for Android is a little murkier with so many manufacturers, but the consensus seems to be no. Around the time that Apple admitted that it was slowing down iPhones, some of the biggest names in Android devices chimed in with their responses.

LG and Samsung told Phone Arena that they do not reduce phone performance as phones age.

HTC and Motorola told The Verge that they do not throttle phones based on battery health either.

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