Data shows consistent performance for iPhone 5S, iPhone 6, iPhone 6S and iPhone 7 with successive iOS updates, but that doesn’t mean the phones don’t feel slower.
It is a never-ending question asked in offices, pubs, shops and across the internet every year in the run-up to the launch of a new iPhone: does Apple slow down older iPhones to make you buy new ones.
On the face of the question, it seems a bit far-fetched, imagine if it was discovered that Apple really does hobble older iPhones. The truth, at least according to the data provided by benchmarking company Futuremark, is that despite what users might feel on a day-to-day basis, your iPhone's processor and graphics chips are as fast as the day you bought the smartphone.
Futuremark collected more than 100,000 benchmarking tests, from the iPhone 5S to the iPhone 7, and averaged the performance of both the processor (CPU) and the graphics chip (GPU) once a month between April 2016 and September 2017 with different versions of Apple's software from iOS 9 to iOS 11.
According to Futuremark: “iPhone 5S GPU performance has remained consistent from iOS 9 to iOS 11, with only minor variations that fall well within normal levels.”
The processor performance was equally consistent leading Futuremark to conclude that "it is clear that iOS updates have not had a significant effect on performance".
The graphics performance for the iPhone 6, 6S and 7 also remained consistent, while processor performance dipped slightly with successive iOS updates.
“The graphs for CPU performance show a very slight drop in performance over time – possibly due to minor iOS updates or other factors – but a user would be unlikely to notice this small difference in everyday use,” said Futuremark.
While benchmarks show that processor and graphics performance are not intentionally hindered with successive iOS updates, it is entirely possible that people feel that their smartphones are slowing down over time.
It might be because as smartphones get more powerful and more capable with each new release, apps and services are also updated. At the same time, more features get added to apps that result in several bouts of battery drain issues, but it also slowed down the performance of the app. Battery life also degrades as a smartphone ages, while new batteries have greater longevity, the battery in your four-year-old iPhone 5S is almost certainly worse than when it was new. Combined with more bloated apps, it certainly gives the feeling that things are slowing down and getting worse, even if Apple is not intentionally reducing performance.