If you’ve been wondering why your iPhone seems to slow down just a little bit around the same time that the news and web is full of buss and anticipation about the latest model from Apple, you may not be going crazy.
Data pulled from Google Trends has shown a significant spike in web searches for “iPhone slow” at the time of a the launch of a new iPhone, dislaying a genuine correlation between the number of people worrying about the speed and performance of their mobile phone and the launch of an updated model. Could it be that this is more than just mere coincidence? Or could it be just another myth like the infamous [tp lang=”en” only=”y”]iPhone 6 bendgate[/tp][tp not_in=”en”]iPhone 6 bendgate[/tp] stories?
There are certainly conspiracy theorists out there who believe that it might be. These people believe that Apple have been utilising an ethically questionable economic technique called “planned obsolescence”, in which a company intentionally damage their product in order to promote an updated version that’s soon to go on sale. It’s hard to deny that this theory makes some sense- what better way to encourage people to invest in a new iPhone than to convince them that their old iPhone is no longer working as it should?
As logical as this conclusion might sound, it doesn’t quite hold water. Firstly, so-called planned obsolescence is illegal, for obvious reasons. For a company as visible and highly regarded as Apple, such a flagrant disregard of customer’s rights would be a massive gamble, and one that would likely be quickly discovered and penalised. Apple hasn’t responded to the accusations thrown around by conspiracy theorists about a sinister plan to intentionally downgrade its older models as newer, more expensive phones are released, but it’s likely that Apple doesn’t want to lend weight to the theory and give it even more publicity by commenting publically.
The more likely explanation for this increase in perceived slowness of older iPhone handsets is in the software update that frequently accompanies the launch of a new iPhone model. When Apple launched its latest flagship, the iPhone 5s, it also brought along the anticipated operating system upgrade- iOS 8.
Because Apple has a knack for prompting all of its users when a software update is available on their iPad or iPhone, and because of the media frensy that tends to accompany an iOS update, it’s common for Apple device users to update automatically to a new operating system. Research has shown that 90 percent of iPhone users are currenty running the most recent operating system offered by Apple, probably with the aim of getting the most features and the latest technology on whatever iPhone or iPad they’re currently using.
This figure stands in stark contrast to the number of Android users currently using the latest Android operating system on their handsets- just 18 percent. These numbers could explain why iPhones tend to slow down around the same time as a new model is launched- users are upgrading to an operating system that their phone isn’t quite new or advanced enough to run smoothly, causing their iPhone to slow down as it struggles to keep all of the new features going at once.
This theory shows that Apple is probably aware that newer upgrades and developments in their hardware and software are causing older phones to perform less effectively, but it’s unlikely that many Apple users would prefer that the company stop innovating in order to keep older phones running quickly. Technology moves on, and most customers would prefer to keep it that way.
A similar theory points out that the ongoing upgrades to apps running on the iPhone can cause the system to slow down over time, as the apps begin to perform increasing numbers of functions and take up more memory. Once again, the desire for increasing functionality from apps comes from consumer demand, so the gradual decrease in power and speed from the iPhone is really an inevitable byproduct of customers wanting more and more from their smartphone.
The Psychological Theory
Software aside, some critics have argued that the perceived slowness from iPhones around the time of a new model launch is rooted in the user’s mind, rather than in any real deterioration of their mobile phone. While app updates and software upgrades may genuinely be causing some glitches and overloading on older devices, these changes may have been minor and largely unnoticeable until the buss around a newer, faster model caused the user to think twice about how well their phone is performing.
In this case, the reaction is exactly as Apple would want it to be. All of the publicity and hype around the release of a new iPhone would certainly lead many users to take a look at their formerly beloved but now a little rough around the ages iPhone and wonder if it’s really so great after all. What’s more, increased speculation in articles exactly like this one would alert users to the possibility that their phone may in fact be slowing down, causing them to be hyper-aware of any small problems or lag in their phone.
Ultimately, there’s no way of knowing for sure exactly where the root of this problem lies. What the data from Google shows is strictly correlation and not causation, and all of these explanations are speculation, not proof. Whether or not you believe there’s foul play occurring is your conclusion to draw.
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