Benchmarks show that iOS updates don't slow down old iPhones

MANILA, Philippines – Every year, it seems to be a tradition among iPhone owners to complain about the perceived slowdown brought about by an iOS upgrade. The refrain is no different this year as Apple introduced its newest mobile operating system, the iOS 11.

"The upgrade slowed my phone down, so I'll be forced to upgrade to a new phone," your disgruntled iPhone-owning friend might say. 

However, benchmarks released by third-party company Futuremark reveals another story: the OS upgrades don't affect the performance of older iPhone models negatively. 

Futuremark is the company behind 3DMark, among other benchmarking tools. Like many benchmarking tools, it gives devices a stress test, measures several metrics, and rounds everything off to a single number that makes for easy comparisons among devices. In 3DMark's case, it tasks phones with the rendering of demanding visuals and graphics, and weighs how efficiently and effectively the phone performs the task. 

Futuremark recently performed the test on older iPhones (5s, 6, 6s, 7) running on iOS 11. They then compared the results of that test with those from prior tests using the iOS 9 and the iOS 10. The phones were tested on a monthly basis. All these results were then arranged in a bar graph. The summary: the decline in performance among the phones across several OSes is ever so slight. 

Check out the graphs: 

Chart from Futuremark
Chart from Futuremark
Chart from Futuremark
Chart from Futuremark

At least by one benchmark, the speculation that new iOS versions slow down old phones may be an exaggeration. Looking at the charts, there is a little decline in score comparing the first and the latest test – but not nearly as grave as some owners may lead you to believe. 

Futuremark performed the tests after Google trends showed that searches for "iPhone slow" increased every time Apple released a new model – with some perceiving that Apple intentionally slows old phones down so people will buy the newest models.  

The company did offer some insights as to why some people feel like their phones are slower after an update. 

"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," said the company in an online press release. 

"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," the company concluded. – 

Gelo Gonzales

Gelo Gonzales is Rappler’s technology editor. He covers consumer electronics, social media, emerging tech, and video games.