Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 20th Dec 2017 17:36 UTC

A Reddit post from last week has sparked a discussion regarding iPhone performance as a function of battery age. While we expect battery capacity to decrease as batteries age, we expect processor performance to stay the same. However, users with older iPhones with lower-than-expected Geekbench 4 scores have reported that replacing the battery increases their score (as well as the performance of the phone). What's going on here? How many phones are experiencing decreased Geekbench 4 score?

To answer these questions I've plotted the kernel density of Geekbench 4 single-core scores for the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 7 running different versions of iOS. Scores obtained in low-power mode are not included in the distribution.

Evidence seems to be mounting that Apple is decreasing the clock speed of iPhones with decreased battery capacity to maintain the advertised battery life.

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RE[5]: Known issue
by Tony Swash on Fri 22nd Dec 2017 20:00 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Known issue"
Tony Swash
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I'm sorry Tony, but if an android vendor used this as an excuse for why users couldn't run the CPU at full speed, then we would rightfully be criticising them right now. Apple does not get a pass here, this is a fail.

Well first of all this type of issue - i.e. operating system updates affecting handset speeds - is far less common in the Android world simply because operating system updates are so much rarer than in the iOS world.

I do think Apple could have handled this better and more transparently, particularly as there was a pre-existing tech myth that Apple deliberately slowed down old iPhones in order to sell new ones. I think there should be a built in feature in iOS that replicates the function of apps like Battery Life and which would let owners know that the battery in their handset was degrading, by how much and the likely consequences and remedies available.

As a result of this story I downloaded the Battery Life app and checked my iPhone 6 and discovered my battery had degraded by about 9%, luckily not enough effect anything much. My iPhone, which is running the latest iOS version, doesn’t feel any slower than when I got it, although as always third party app quality varies and sometimes an update can be problematic.

Apple’s solution of background throttling when a degraded battery begins to exceed its limits no doubt sounded like a sensible engineering solution when it was being designed and implemented but it needed to be communicated and explained in advance, and openly, which it wasn’t. Hopefully Apple learns from such episodes.

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