LOS ANGELES — (CBSLA/CNN Money) — Apple has acknowledged what many iPhone owners long suspected: It has slowed older phones.

The tech giant issued a rare statement of explanation on Thursday, saying that it has used software updates to limit the performance of older iPhones that may have battery issues that would cause them to turn off suddenly.

Tech analysts and angry customers have reported in recent days that operating system updates had caused older iPhones to slow considerably, with some suggesting that Apple could be using the tactic to encourage fans to buy new phones.

Apple insists the updates were made with a different goal in mind: It said the performance of lithium-ion batteries degrades over time, which can sometimes cause phones to suddenly shut down in order to protect their components.

Also Thursday, Los Angeles residents Stefan Bogdanovich and Dakota Speas filed a lawsuit with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California accusing Apple of slowing down their older iPhone models when new models come out.

According to the lawsuit, Bogdanovich and Speas have owned the iPhone 7 and several older iPhone models and have noticed that their “older iPhone models slows (sic) down when new models come out.” The two say they did not consent to have Apple slow down their devices, nor were they able to “choose whether they preferred to have their iPhones slower than normal.”

They’re seeking both California and nationwide class-action certification, which would cover all persons residing in the United States who have owned iPhone models older than the iPhone 8.

The company said its software updates for the iPhone 6, iPhone 6S, iPhone SE and iPhone 7 are designed to “smooth out” peak power demands, prevent these surprise shutdowns and ultimately prolong the lifespan of batteries.

But the updates can also lead to disappointing speeds.

Doron Myersdorf, CEO instant-charging battery startup StoreDot, said that “smoothing out” means that phones will reorder incoming commands to make sure not all of them are done in parallel.

“The inevitable outcome of it will be an inherent slowdown of the average response times by the system,” he explained.

Apple said in its statement that it will continue to use the feature with other products in the future.

The revelation sparked an outcry among Apple fans, with some suggesting they may switch to rival Samsung.

“Since Apple admits they slow down old iPhones I’ll admit I probably won’t buy a new iPhone,” said Twitter user Jeff Zenisek.

— Samuel Burke contributed reporting.

The-CNN-Wire
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Comments (3)
  1. As long as people throw their money away on Apple phones, nothing will change. I don’t believe for one minute Apple’s excuse for slowing down older phones.

    As everyone knows, Apple doesn’t provide external storage capability so that a buyer is forced to purchase a higher priced phone to get more storage. If enough people leave Apple and go to Android, it might cause Apple to rethink their policy of profits over their customers.

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