Apple recently confirmed longstanding conspiracy theories when they stated that they have been slowing down old iPhones. While the details of this process may end up playing out in court, owners of old iPhones are still left to wonder how to maximize the performance of their beloved devices.
Here’s everything you need to know about why your old iPhone is getting slower and what you can do about it.
Why is My Older iPhone So Slow?
According to Apple, it has to do with your battery.
Apple admitted to “slowing down” old iPhones in order to prevent problems like accidental shutdowns. They claim that old iPhone batteries are like old water pipes. They simply can’t handle certain amounts of data flow. As such, Apple made older iPhones regulate the amount of data batteries had to process.
That’s the official answer. A more popular theory states that these slowdowns are implemented to encourage you to buy a new iPhone.
Will Replacing My Battery Speed Up My iPhone?
The short answer is: Maybe.
First, you’ll want to test just how much slower your iPhone really is. To do that, download an app called Geekbench 4.
Geekbench 4 measures your current CPU performance benchmarks. The most important readings it offers are your single core and multi-core speed readings.
Ideally, your single core reading will be at or above these numbers for the following iPhone models:
- 6 and 6 Plus: 1620
- 6s, 6s Plus, and SE: 2500
- iPhone 7: 3500
If your core score is significantly below those numbers – as in a few hundred points lower – your battery is likely the culprit.
If I Own an iPhone 6 or 7, Will Apple Replace My Old Battery?
The good news is that Apple is offering iPhone 6 and 7 users the chance to receive a discounted battery replacement. Sometime soon, Apple will roll out a program that will allow you to take your iPhone to a store – or send it in – and have the battery replaced for $29. The usual fee for this service is $79.
Although Apple will honor any requests for a battery change, you may wish to run a performance test on your phone to ensure the battery is the issue.
Your best bet is to take your phone to a service center or store. This way, you don’t have to be without it for to be shipped back to you. However, you can arrange to ship it via the Apple support page.
What if I Own an Even Older iPhone?
Unfortunately, it seems that Apple is not willing to officially support models older than the iPhone 6. It’s believed that older iPhone models simply won’t be able to keep up with technological changes.
Is Buying a New Battery Worth It?
If your iPhone is still under warranty, then you should absolutely replace your battery. If you own an iPhone 6 or 7 and are still generally happy with it, then it’s probably worth it to take advantage of the replacement option.
Beyond that, you have to realize that even a new battery can only do so much. For iPhone 5 and below, a new battery might only prolong the effectiveness of your phone for another year or so. That because apps and technology are becoming more advanced all of the time. General iPhone usage is going to slow your device down more and more as time goes on.
At some point, you’re going to want to buy a new phone.
Can I Replace My iPhone Battery Myself?
You can, but it’s not an easy process.
In fact, we’d strongly recommend letting a professional replace your battery. There is a strong chance you will not be able to perform the procedure yourself without harming your iPhone. That’s because the basic process requires the removal and replacement of some very sensitive parts and small screws.
If you’re truly determined to do it yourself, though, there are options. We highly recommend heading over to Ifixit. That website offers iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPhone 6, and iPhone 7 battery replacement kits at pretty fair prices.
Everything you need is included in these kits. If you somehow already have the parts you need, then this website also offers instructions on how to perform the operation yourself.
Can’t I Just Buy a Battery Case?
Yes, but you need to be realistic about how much of a difference it will make.
Battery cases were designed to improve the life of batteries. While battery life is at the heart of the iPhone slowdown problems, the real issue is battery performance. If your iPhone 6 or 7 tests just below the ideal metrics, then a battery case might help push its performance over the top.
However, older or very slow iPhones will not be saved by a battery case. You’re better off using the money you’d spend on a case and putting it towards a new battery or a new iPhone.
Can I Revert to an Old Version of iOS?
That would be nice, but it’s not that easy.
Technically, you can revert many iPhone models to iOS 10.3.3. However, according to Apple, this problem dates back to changes made before that version of iOS was released. As such, it’s probably not worth the effort to go back to an old version of iOS.
I’m Not Willing or Able to Replace My iPhone Battery. Do I Have Any Other Options?
Sadly, a bad battery can only really be fixed by a new battery or a new iPhone.
The very good news is that there are always ways to improve the general performance of your iPhone. There are no guarantees that any of these methods will save your iPhone, but they might improve your quality of life.
Here are a few quick suggestions for improving the performance of your iPhone battery:
Free Up Space on Your Phone – Old messages, unused apps, videos and photos that you can send elsewhere….if there is anything on your phone that doesn’t need to be there, then get rid of it. Just be sure to backup anything you’d like to keep elsewhere.
Download a More Efficient Browser – Google Chrome and other popular browsers are notorious resource hogs. Consider switching to a browser like Opera or Dolphin if you’re looking to save your battery.
Delete Browser Cookies – No matter what browser you use, most of them store “cookies” and other data. Enough of these can start to weigh your battery down. The process for deleting them varies, but it can usually be found under settings.
Delete The Facebook App – Seriously? Yes, seriously. The Facebook app is one of the biggest battery drainers out there. If you accidentally leave it running, you’re basically condemning your phone to a young death.
Turn Off Siri – The beloved iPhone assistant tends to seriously drain your phone’s battery. Unless you’re really fond of using Siri, this is a great way to improve performance.
Don’t Use Bluetooth – Maybe you’re starting to see why getting a new battery is the best option. Still, if you’re desperate for extra battery life, then turning off bluetooth is a great start.
Disable Vibrations – On their own, vibrations aren’t that harmful. However, receiving multiple vibrations in a row can drain a battery pretty fast.
While all these tips will help, you’ll have to resort to slightly more drastic actions if you’re going to truly save your iPhone’s battery. That’s when you’ll need to employ some of these advanced techniques.
Switch to HEIF and HEVC Formats
HEIF (High Efficiency Image File Format) and HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) are photo and video format alternatives that don’t take up quite as much space. In order to turn these on by default, simply follow these steps.
- Open Settings and go to Camera.
- Tap Formats. You should be able to switch to HEIF and HEVC if you were not running them already. Note that some older iPhone models may not support this option.
Calibrate Your iPhone Battery
Believe it or not, there is an ideal way to charge your iPhone that might help your overall battery life. It’s called calibrating, and the calibration process is very simple.
- Drain your iPhone battery down to 0 percent.
- When you recharge, keep your iPhone turned off until it reaches 100 percent charge.
- Turn your iPhone back on. Repeat this process at least once a month.
This process helps your iPhone better understand when your phone is really in need of more juice and can lead to better battery readings.
Get Rid of Unnecessary Effects and Functions in Five Steps
One of the great things about Apple’s interface is the way it feels so alive. You don’t even really appreciate the difference until you use another OS. There are a lot of little effects that make iOS’ menus pleasant to look at and use.
Unfortunately, those effects drain your battery pretty quickly. If you want to turn many them off, it’s fairly easy to do so:
- Open Settings and go to General
- Tap on Accessibility. You’ll probably see that Reduce Motion is turned “off.” Simply activate this feature if you wish to improve general performance.
- Next, activate the “Increase Contrast” option. This should remove certain transparency effects.
- Go back to the “General” section, and find the Background App Refresh option. Disable this to prevent Apps from performing unnecessary background actions.
- Finally, go back to Settings and select iTunes & App Stores. There, choose to disable Automatic Downloads. This should prevent your phone from slowing down suddenly because an app is being updated.
Restore From iTunes and not iCloud
iCloud is great most of the time, but it’s also a notorious resource hog. As such, using it for certain performance-enhancing fixes sometimes doesn’t have the desired effect.
This is especially true of restoring your iPhone. In case you didn’t know, it is possible to revert your iPhone to a previously saved build. In theory, this can help remove some clutter.
Tests show that it’s better to complete this process through iTunes and not iCloud because it leaves less clutter on your device. Here’s how you do it:
- Open iTunes on your Mac or PC. Connect your iPhone to that device
- Select your phone in iTunes. Choose the Restore Backup option.
- Choose your preferred backup date and size. Then click Restore and wait for the process to finish.
Perform a Hard Reset or a Soft Reset
Aside from utilizing the backup system, there are a couple of other ways to reset your iPhone. One of them is fairly simple. The other is definitely a last resort kind of option.
Given that only iPhone 6 or older models should be affected by these recent issues, we’ll cover how to soft reboot those. Newer models follow a different process.
- Hold the On/Off button on the side of the phone. Press and hold the home button shortly thereafter.
- The screen should turn off and display the Apple logo when it turns back on. Think of this process as a power nap for your device. It shakes the digital cobwebs free.
If you just can’t stand your iPhone’s slow performance anymore and want to take desperate actions, then you’ll need to perform a hard reset.
Just know that this process will basically restore your iPhone to its factory settings. That means you will lose almost everything. Still, it tends to do the job.
- Go to Settings and choose General
- Under the Reset option, you should be able to select Reset All Content and Settings. Just make sure that you’re really ready to go through with this.
While all of these things will improve the performance of your old iPhone, there is no software substitute for a new battery. You should be especially wary of any app that claims to offer just that.
The cheapest and most effective way to improve the performance of an old iPhone is to get a new battery. Even then, you may find that the iPhone 4 and below will simply never perform like they used to.
Apple has made it clear that getting a new battery or a new iPhone is going to be inevitable at some point. Consider these performance tips as ways to hold you over until that time.