Reports have been making the rounds over the last week (and for the past few years) that Apple deliberately slows down older iPhones when new iPhones are launched to push people to upgrade to the newer devices. The original claim that circulated was based on rather vague data relating to Google searches for "iPhone slow" spiking with the release of each new and updated iPhone model and the accompanying update to iOS.
Futuremark has now stepped in to debunk this claim and thankfully it doesn't have to rely on Google searches; it has actual real-world performance data for iPhones to base its claims on. Futuremark writes, "Fortunately, we have plenty of real-world data we can use. Since 2016, we have collected more than a hundred thousand benchmark results for seven different iPhone models across three different versions of iOS."
If you are unfamiliar with Futuremark, the company offers 3DMark, a free benchmarking tool that has an app available to test smartphone performance. The app runs what Futuremark calls "demanding tests" on the device and then gives you a number that can compare devices against each other or look at performance for the same device over time, the higher the score the better.
Futuremark looked back at scores of iPhone 5s GPU performance from April 2016 through September 2017 when the new iPhone 8 models were announced and the performance is nearly dead on each month in that 17 month time frame, through each updated iOS version (including point releases).
The next image is a test on iPhone 5s CPU performance and it again shows almost rock steady performance over the same time frame with different iterations of iOS running the show. The CPU tests does show a little decline over time that Futuremark chalks up to iOS updates or other factors. However, it does state that the performance decline is so small that users wouldn't even notice.
As for why searches for "iPhone slow" spikes when new models are released, Futuremark figures it could be psychological. It also notes that new versions of iOS might be adding features that use more resources, making the older devices be perceived as slower when new models launch. Futuremark notes that its data shows that Apple is doing a good job of maintaining consistent performance for older devices.
Futuremark wrote, "An update might add new features that use more resources or require more processing power. New apps developed for the latest models might not run as smoothly on older devices. Conversely, apps designed for an earlier version of iOS might not take full advantage of optimizations in the latest version. And then there is always the psychological effect of knowing that there is a new and improved model available, which can make your own device seem outdated."In other iPhone news, the iPhone 8 Plus has seen a handful of users report battery swelling issues that lead to the smartphone cracking open.