Planned Obsolescence for iPhones Is All in Your Head

Every time Apple releases a new iPhone, one search term in particular spikes: "iPhone slow." Many have accused the company of sabotaging existing customers' devices in order to push them toward upgrading to the latest model, boosting sales. One research team decided to dig into the data. While planned obsolescence is a great fable about capitalism, in this case, it's simply not true.

Finnish benchmarking firm Futuremark just released its own study, first examining a series of iPhone models' GPU, or graphics processing unit. It's the hardware that controls how quickly images change on your screen. They began with the iPhone 5S, reasoning that any planned obsolescence would be most pronounced in older models. Instead, they found that GPU performance remained fairly steady over the past year and a half.

Next, they looked at CPU performance, the central processing unit, which regulates how quickly the computer executes commands. While this varied a little more, that can be explained by software changes, and most variations were too minor for users to notice.

They repeated these tests for every subsequent iPhone model, and found the same results. Further wobbles in performance may even stem simply from outdated apps that aren't optimized for the latest operating system. Overall, what seems like an uncanny conspiracy to manipulate devices we already own is in fact psychological rather than physical. Between our suspicions of Apple as a corporation and the natural aging process of a piece of technology, we've constructed a story that the data doesn't bear out.

So, if you're jonesing for the new iPhone, go ahead. But if your older model is still working, keep on keeping on — you shouldn't have anything to worry about.