Every year I try to discourage unnecessary iOS updating. Primarily because there are always complications in every iOS update, followed by months of developers scrambling to fix them. Secondarily to this, there have long been suspicions that Apple was deliberately crippling older hardware with new iOS versions as a form of forced obsolescence. The former has always been good advice, while the later has been dismissed for years by the Apple faithful.
This week Apple admitted to crippling older iPhones. They were caught red-handed when benchmarks revealed the pattern. The iPhone 6s started performing badly at iOS 10.2.1, and even worse at iOS 11.2. Now iPhone 7 owners are finding the same performance hits if they've updated to iOS 11.2, while an iPhone 7 on iOS 11.1.2 continues cruising at full-throttle. Because Apple stops signing older versions of iOS, you are not allowed to down-grade back to a previous version.
Apple stopped signing iOS 11.1.2 this week. If you update to iOS 11.2, you are stuck.
Here is Apple's response to TechCrunch:
"Our goal is to deliver the best experience for customers, which includes overall performance and prolonging the life of their devices. Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, have a low battery charge or as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components.
Last year we released a feature for iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone SE to smooth out the instantaneous peaks only when needed to prevent the device from unexpectedly shutting down during these conditions. We’ve now extended that feature to iPhone 7 with iOS 11.2, and plan to add support for other products in the future."
Many in the community have tried to write this off as a, "Oh well, just get your battery replaced and the problem is solved." In fact some news organizations are parroting this claim. But note that Apple does not indicate replacing the battery will alleviate the throttling in any way. This is because it probably doesn't.
This throttling is meant to address unexpected iPhone shutdowns, but iPhone 6s owners reported that those shutdowns continued after using Apple's battery replacement service. If the shutdown problem persists after a battery replacement, it seems like pretty fucking irresponsible journalism to tell readers a battery replacement will also fix Apple's throttling.
While Apple has admitted to iPhone throttling, they haven't mentioned if they are doing the same to iPads. My iPad Air has been my faithful sidekick for years, and I haven't felt the need to upgrade. I did however, have to update to iOS 11 last week. I have since noticed everything feels a lot more sluggish. I would be very surprised if Apple isn't crippling iPads in the same manner, in order to "deliver the best experience for customers."