Do brands deliberately slow down mobiles during the festivities? The answer is complicated


ROCKHAMPTON (AUSTRALIA): It’s usually this time of year that you hear people complaining that their phones are slowing down. Apple and Google are releasing new versions of their operating systems (OS) and suddenly a lot of people are claiming that their old devices have started falling behind – conveniently just before Christmas.

But are the manufacturers really slowing down our phones on purpose to push us into new and shiny ones, as has been claimed?

The answer to this question, as usual, is complicated. Let’s take a look at the evidence.

The old operating system shuffle

Every year, usually around May and June, tech companies announce their new operating system updates. The main release news is often new system features such as Facetime enhancements, voice assistant enhancements, or a more sophisticated system design.

But did you know that these features are optimized for the new material traditionally released during the summer and the chips that come with it?

As such, system updates should be scheduled to achieve two goals. The first is to support the new hardware and the new chip, which offer the latest functionality.

The second is to continue working with existing hardware that will not support the new features. And that means coding the operating system so that it doesn’t depend on new features that need to work.

This challenge also exists for desktop operating systems, as evidenced by the recent removal of older systems from the Windows 11 compatibility list. Microsoft has decided that coding around new features is an overwhelming challenge in some cases.

Difficulties with the material
So your old smartphone won’t support the new features – fair enough. But why does it feel like the new OS update is slowing down existing functionality? To understand this, you must first understand some of the mechanics of chip design.

Apple used to use chips from other manufacturers for its devices, but in recent years it has made its own custom silicon. This is called a “system on a chip (SoC), because the entire system exists on a single chip designed and manufactured by Apple.”

But even if manufacturers design their own chips, it can be difficult to predict what consumers will want in the future, and therefore what upgrades will come with future iterations of a device.

Manufacturers must write operating system updates to accommodate the latest hardware, so consumers who buy it can take advantage of the latest features. In doing so, they have to work around the fact that older hardware does not have the same capacity.

These workarounds mean that old devices will run slower with the new operating system installed, even for tasks the system has been doing for years. The latest OS isn’t written to slow down your old device, but since it’s written for the latest device, it can’t help but run slower on the old hardware.

Examples abound in the industry, with many articles written about a new version of the operating system running slowly on older devices until the manufacturer optimizes it (if at all).

You might be wondering: if a new operating system slows down old phones, why install the update?

Well, that’s because people don’t like being told to stick with old features. Apple recently allowed users of its latest devices to keep the old system, but this is unusual. Users are generally pressured to install new versions of the operating system.

ThinkStock Photos

If your slow device is getting you down, the best option is to resist the urge to upgrade.

Everything is business

The truth is, device makers are here to make money. And that means being able to sell new devices.

While consumers often implicitly expect manufacturers to commit to maintaining old products, at the same time they have to write updates that will work for their latest hardware.

Meanwhile, tech companies aren’t doing enough to educate users on how to adjust their settings to get the most out of their phones, or how to deal with software overload that could be contributing to a slower phone. .

In addition, there are other factors such as network connection problems, such as when the 3G mobile network has been shut down.

Burden of proof

There is something else to consider as well. If an operating system update was designed to intentionally slow down a phone over time, that would be very difficult to prove.

System codes are “closed source” so experts cannot review them. The best we can do is run timers on different processes and see if they slow down over time.

But even if they are, is it because of a system update that cannot be supported by the old hardware, or is it malicious behavior on the part of the? maker ? Could the code be written to force the device to sleep for half a second, every ten seconds, with a sleep command?

It’s hard to say for sure, although our personal opinion is that it is highly unlikely.

Choose not to play

Ultimately, the problem comes down to how device makers sell their products.

The best option for their results is to provide updates and operating system features that work with the latest hardware, even if it leaves older devices behind. Evidence suggests that manufacturers don’t intentionally slow down phones, but prioritize the latest version for you to buy.

In the meantime, if your sluggish device is getting you down, the best option is to resist the urge to upgrade. You may receive prompts to install the latest version of the operating system (and the frequency of these depends on the company), but you can ignore them.

There might be some automatic updates that you can’t avoid, but in most cases they’re for security reasons and don’t include major changes or new features. It is only after these security updates stop coming that you should upgrade.

By then, a phone running on its original operating system should, in theory, perform well for a long time.

(This article is syndicated by PTI of The Conversation)


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