It's one of the most narratively pleasing bipartisan conspiracy theories: When Apple releases a new iPhone, it remotely slows down all existing models so people will want to buy the upgrade. Lots of digital ink has been spilled over whether this is a real thing with evidence (including by us), but Apple itself just threw a new spanner in the works. Turns out the cranks may have been on to something.
Apple has revealed that yes, it does slow down older phones — in battery usage. Apparently failing batteries can cause the iPhone to shut down suddenly; Apple claims that its software slows down battery performance in order to keep that from happening. Rather than see your phone go dark without warning, you simply have a lagging iPhone, just without explanation.
Sure, it's Apple's prerogative to manage and fix its products. But since they're a private company, consumers don't know at what point Apple decides a phone should slow down, or whether it's necessary. It's a bad look, especially when instances seem to spike around release day. Most of all, Apple could step up its corporate communication. The planned obsolescence rumor has been going around for years, and the company could have done a lot of damage control with more transparency earlier.
That said, come rain or come shine, Apple customers tend to upgrade their iPhones every 22 months. If you're in the market for a refurbished or secondhand phone, you probably have nothing to worry about.