This is a problem we face every year. A new phone is released, and a lot people start having problems with their older devices. For instance, between the last few months, right about when the iPhone 8 and iPhone X became available, Google searches for the term “iPhone slow” went up by 50%.
This phenomenon is so common that people now believe that tech companies intentionally slow their devices down in order to coax them into buying new ones. There’s even a term for it, “planned obsolence”. But is there any actual conspiracy at work here? Not really. Phones do become slow with passing years, and the reason behind it isn’t exactly evil. It’s mainly because of the software upgrades.
According to Greg Raiz, a former Microsoft program manager who worked on Windows XP, “There’s no incentive for operating system companies to create planned obsolescence. It’s software, and software has various degrees of production bugs and unintended things that happen.”
When a company like Apple or Google announced a new phone, they are often accompanied by OS upgrades. Like Apple released iOS 11 shortly before the iPhone 8 started shipping in September. That update was available for the 5s as well, which is four years old. When you install a new OS on such an old device, especially one that already has a bunch of apps loaded, some issues may occur that may make the user experience a little sluggish, as the upgrade process also has to migrate your files and apps and settings. It’s likely that a quality assurance tester who installed iOS 11 on an iPhone 5s may have done it on a clean device, and not faced any problems.
“It’s like changing the plumbing of the house without changing anything else,” says Scott Berkun, an author and a former manager for Microsoft who oversaw engineers that worked on Windows operating systems and web browsers.
The good news is, as there isn’t a vast conspiracy trying to make your phone obsolete, you can try a bunch of fixes yourselves. Maybe try backing up your data and doing a fresh install instead of simply updating. There could be a bunch of other reasons why your phone is acting up as well, so don’t be too quick to jump to conclusions.