Long-running speculation that Apple deliberately slows down older iPhones in software in order to supposedly push people into purchasing its latest models has been officially debunked and put to rest by Finnish computer benchmark developers Futuremark.

Taking more than a hundred thousand 3DMark benchmark results for seven different iPhone models across three different versions of iOS, Futuremark delivers a more reliable insight into everyday performance data of each iPhone model over time.

Their 3DMark benchmarking app, a free download from App Store, runs a demanding series of synthetic CPU and GPU tests. Each test produces a set of scores that can be used to compare various iOS devices. The recommended test for recent iPhone models is called Sling Shot Extreme, with a higher score indicating better performance.

The GPU performance of iPhone 5s, Apple’s first phone with a 64-bit chip, has remained consistent across iOS 9, 10 and 11 with minor variations that fall within normal levels.

GPU performance for the iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone 7 series has similarly remained consistent across iOS versions with only minor variations.

CPU performance tests show “a very slight drop in performance over time,” which can be chalked up to minor iOS updates and other factors, though Futuremark notes that users would be unlikely to notice this small difference in everyday use.

“As you’ll see, there are no signs of a conspiracy,“ Futuremark writes.

Of course, synthetic benchmarks only test the maximum CPU and GPU speed under a very specific set of circumstances and as such do not paint a full picture.

There’s no denying that installing the latest and greatest version of Apple’s mobile operating system can make older devices feel somewhat sluggish in everyday use, but as Futuremark has shown, that’s not because Apple is deliberately throttling the CPU and GPU.

There are other factors at play here which affect our perception of performance.

Most notably, every new iOS update brings with it new core OS technologies and adds features that use more resources or require more processing power. Especially on older devices, those features require more RAM and may not feel as snappy as on the latest hardware.

For instance, iOS 9 opened popular stock apps like Messages, Maps and Phone to developers and using third-party extensions in those apps does eat up precious CPU cycles on older models. And as iOS becomes more visually sophisticated, the GPU in older Apple chips may struggle to render the layered user interface without dropping frames.

Another thing to take into account: apps designed for an earlier version of iOS might not take full advantage of optimizations in the latest version.

Futuremark concludes that rather than intentionally degrading the performance of older models, Apple actually “does a good job of supporting its older devices with regular updates that maintain a consistent level of performance across iOS versions.”

Thoughts?

  • Anonymouse

    Tell that to my ipod touch 5th gen. Which I must say makes for a very good looking paperweight.

    • Nex

      Don’t forget about the wristband

      • Jerry

        LMAOOOOO

    • Stefano Marsella

      that only has 512mb of RAM and an A5 processor, those specs are 2011, they’re SIX years old……… thats ANCIENT in terms of technoglgoy like the article pointed out hardware struggles with newer software, its fact.

      • FLipChip

        So what? That sh!t ran just fine on iOS 6 when it came out! I still got a couple iPhone 4’s kicking around that are Jailbroken and running on iOS 6.1.2 that still work great! Sometimes LESS IS MORE! Not everybody needs all those new bullsh!t ass gimmicks like most of you fanboys do.

        It doesn’t matter if it’s SIX YEARS OLD! People should be able to put whatever fvck iOS version they want on THEIR DEVICE! PERIOD! I bet if crApple opened a restaurant, they would serve people whatever they wanted an all you fanboys would sit there and eat that sh!t like a bunch of good little sheepeople! SMH

      • Rowan09

        But that’s every restaurant, lol. Dude go to McDonald’s and ask for a Whopper and see how that turns out. Or go to KFC and ask for a Big Mac. Come on man you sound crazy now. If you want to keep your old device on an old firmware that’s fine but don’t expect developers and Apple to keep supporting it forever.

  • AZ

    Inentionally slowing down animations doesn’t show performance decrease in benchmarks.

    • Christopher

      Thank you. That’s exactly what I came here to say as well. Benchmarks can’t measure animation speed, just computing power.

      Slowing the animations always makes the entire device feel aged and slow, and I feel that it’s highly likely that Apple does it intentionally to make you want to upgrade to their latest and greatest. If a device feels brand new for years, people are unlikely to upgrade.

  • Artur Fabri

    I would like them to test my iPhone 6 Plus after iOS 11. Even after reset all settings and start from anew device, it’s still extremely slow!

  • Techsticles

    Supporting multiple iPhone 6 models in business environment. There is a noticeable slowdown. Everyone is complaining.

    • Stefano Marsella

      Wait for a couple months, you shouldn’t update to brand new software straight away, especially if you have a business depending on those phones, every single year there are problems with updates when they first come out, nobody listens when they are told DON’T upgrade straight away and then there are complaints and people moaning about this stuff. There are always bugs in the public release wait till 11.1, thats when they will have most of the bugs ironed out and performance increased. Look, within less than 2 weeks apple has already released two 11.0.X updates (11.0.1 & 11.0.2), which means there are still a lot of bugs and performance issues to be fixed. Also you’re using phones that are 4 yrs old (unless you mean 6s ) don’t expect them to be running flawlessly.

      • Techsticles

        I wish it was corporate. I support Small Businesses. Different small companies. I’m happy I’ve been able to convince people to wait for dot releases. Trouble was in this case Apple release .01 and .02 which confused some people but looks like most just were auto-updated.

  • Rafet

    Some lab test is enough to override hands-on experience of millions of users? Nobdy is saying Apple is intentionally throttling existing computing power! They just DO NOT CARE about the speed impact their new core iOS design has on older phones as they always focus on so-called “next big thing” since the creation of mankind! These articles and so-called debunking of valid user experiences sound like Apple PR attempt.

    • MacServiceGuy

      YES! that’s exactly the point

      (but sidenote: even if they are not building something in that slows things down, they still have have INTENT to slow things down because they MUST know how bad it gets when people are forced to upgrade older devices)

      • Fanboy 

        The fact that 4 generations of iPhones (and 7 generations of iPads) can receive the latest update (iOS 11) with new features is a blessing I think everyone takes for granted.

        That would be the equivalent of the Galaxy S5 and a Galaxy tablet from 2013 getting the latest Android update this year (good luck with that).

        Obviously, if you have an older device and you update the hardware won’t keep up like it use to and it will slow it down. Either don’t update your device, or be happy you can get new features and update.

        Yes, I’m a fanboy but I don’t get people who criticize Apple for allowing much older devices the CHOICE to update to the latest and greatest.

      • FLipChip

        Yeah, the choice to UPGRADE but not the choice to DOWNGRADE!

        And don’t even give me that crap about “oh well then don’t upgrade your device”, some people didn’t have a choice because their device already came with an iOS version that they didn’t want!

      • Rowan09

        So you want Apple to allow you to downgrade say to a version with a huge security risk just to be sued? It’s also great for developers who knows what devices they have to develop for instead of having to support every IOS version forever. You’ve probably never developed an app before, but each year you have to do some minor updates.

    • I’m a web developer and I know first hand that having to support older devices that only a handful of people actually use is a total bitch, it hinders design and functionality so damn much.

      It’s completely logical that older devices lose support. Do you think Adobe Photoshop should still support Windows 95? Of course not! That’s not how technology works! Moore’s Law states that technology has a very short lifespan before it’s rendered obsolete, you can’t genuinely expect Apple to restrict their OS’s functionality for the sake of a few whiners with older devices.

      You think Android supports years old hardware? Course they don’t, they just straight up don’t let you install a new OS on something that was bought last year.

  • The Zlatan

    And glyphosate does not cause cancer…

  • MacServiceGuy

    ahhh the fanboy… always looking for a way to defend apple.

    let’s assume this load of bat crap is true, and it’s not intentional.

    IT’S IRRELEVANT

    it’s not about whether the slow down is INTENTIONAL – it’s about whether it’s HAPPENING

    are you fanboys SERIOUSLY trying to convince me that my original ipad mini is not RIDICULOUSLY slow in ios9, compared to when it was in ios 6, 7 or 8?

    IT’S A TOTAL DOG now. complete GARBAGE because i’m FORCED to upgrade it by apple

    which brings us back to ground zero of the stupidity of this centerpiece that further licks apple’s hind quarters (par for the course with IDB)… just because apple isn’t building things into ios to slow it down on older devices, doesn’t mean they are not INTENTIONALLY slowing them down.

    the following two things are both equally true:

    1. if apple were to build something into ios to slow down older devices, that would be wrong of them to do
    2. if apple requires devices to be on versions of ios that slow them down, that would be wrong for them to do

    BOTH have intent

    the answer is not ‘UPGRADE YOUR IPAD’ – the answer is: apple should allow us to PICK the version of ios we want to use and stop this bull crap of not “signing” older versions anymore

    and for your fan boys to post garbage like this that licks apple’s behind every time they do something wrong is testament to how far gone you really are

    • nonchalont

      I agree. Apple needs to let us choose which version we want to be on at our own risk. I don’t need Apple
      to protect me from security breaches. They can just have their disclaimer where they recommend everyone to upgrade to the latest version.

      • FLipChip

        Exactly! And I love how people run around trying to defend crApple’s bullsh*it about not being able to downgrade, saying that it’s because they are “keeping devices secure”. Like they all need their devices to be SOOO SECURE, because they all work for the CIA and are all storing super top secret sensitive data on their iDevices or some sh*it! Like it’s gonna be such a tragedy if someone loses their iDevice and then it somehow manages to fall into the hands of someone that has the skills to even get past the iOS passcode and are able to gain access to all your dumbass se|fies or pictures of your kids and pets! SMH

      • Rowan09

        Won’t work. People were suing Apple for not disabling text messages while driving. Apple has to protect itself in this regard even thought this sounds cool.

    • FLipChip

      Ahhhhhh, it’s so refreshing to see comments from people who don’t have their head up their ass! I was just about to type out a reply when I figured I better see what else the rest of these fanboys have to say and then seen your post.

      It seems like every time crApple does something stupid, these dumbass fanboys will be right along to defend their stupidity! What’s even worse is that their only retort 98% of the time is “blah blah blah this is an Apple related site, go hang out on the Android sites”. Uhhh ok I guess I’ll go hang out on Android sites when I DON’T EVEN FCKING OWN AN ANDROID DEVICE!

      You covered pretty much all the points I was going to make in your post. This benchmark test was a complete waste of time. I don’t know why someone would think that crApple would be intentionally slowing down older devices by some means of intentionally slowing down the CPU. crApple knows that people have access to CPU benchmarking apps that could easily uncover this type of scheme. No, they’re doing it by bloating up iOS so that it will only run smoothly on newer devices. Which is fine, but they should allow users to decide what version of iOS that THEY WANT on THEIR DEVICE!

      And don’t give me any of that bullsh*it about “ohh crApple doesn’t allow downgrades for security reasons”, because that’s a crock of sh*it! There are plenty of devices out there that CAN’T update to the latest firmware, so they’re not getting all the latest security fixes etc. So what is crApple gonna start doing about that? I guess maybe they will start sending people door to door to confiscate older devices because they’re “not secure anymore”?? SMH

      • Rowan09

        My sister-in law has a 5S on IOS 11 and it’s fine, my son also has a iPad Air on IOS 11 and it’s also fine.

      • FLipChip

        Of course it’s fine, a girl who probably only uses the phone app, the messages app, and the faceCrook app, and a kid who probably only plays games. Sounds reasonable. SMH

      • Rowan09

        My brother also has a 6 Plus and it’s fine along with my wife who’s job gives them iPhone 6 devices and they’re also fine. I can’t speak for every iPhone owner but even if this was true how would this be only an Apple thing? I have a PC that was built and after Windows 10 was released months later it was almost unusable. I won’t even mention my Android device just after about a year of usage or 2 years of usage.

  • MacServiceGuy

    notice the sheer amount of people complaining here while the fanboy who wrote this article ignores them and continues to blindly follow apple

  • HamptonWalley

    So nonsense test, would not even worth to mention. The fact is every new IOS updates makes Apple devices slower, like even my Ipad Air 2 lagging to do basic tasks with IOS 11, while was smooth with IOS 10 and earlier versions.

  • :D

    We should be allowed to downgrade to at least the latest version of the previous iOS

  • Of course no drops in bemchmarks will show for the iPhone 5S and newer. They are powerful enough to handle any iOS currently out. I’d like to see this Futuremark compare an iPhone 4S on iOS 5 and iOS 9. Or an iPhone 5 on iOS 6 and iOS 10.