7 signs Apple may be slowing your old iPhone

When should you seek out Apple's new $29 battery replacement? Here are some pretty good indicators.

Sean Hollister Senior Editor / Reviews
When his parents denied him a Super NES, he got mad. When they traded a prize Sega Genesis for a 2400 baud modem, he got even. Years of Internet shareware, eBay'd possessions and video game testing jobs after that, he joined Engadget. He helped found The Verge, and later served as Gizmodo's reviews editor. When he's not madly testing laptops, apps, virtual reality experiences, and whatever new gadget will supposedly change the world, he likes to kick back with some games, a good Nerf blaster, and a bottle of Tejava.
Sean Hollister
2 min read

On Thursday, Apple apologized for failing to tell us the truth right away: The company had been secretly throttling the speed of older iPhones to keep them from unexpectedly shutting down. The fix? A newly inexpensive battery replacement -- just $29 for any iPhone 6 or later, starting in January 2018. (It normally cost $79, but Apple's making it cheaper as part of its apology.)

But how do you know when your iPhone's being throttled? When is it truly worth taking a trip to your local Apple Store and handing over your precious device? 

According to Apple, there are seven signs that a worn battery may be causing Apple's software to slow down your device.

They are:

  • Longer app launch times -- Force-close your apps. Do they take longer than normal to launch from scratch?
  • Lower frame rates while scrolling -- Does your screen seem to stutter when you're scrolling down webpages and through homescreens?
  • Backlight dimming -- Does your phone's screen no longer get as bright, even when you set it that way?
  • Lower speaker volume by up to -3dB -- Do your speakers no longer get as loud?
  • Gradual frame rate reductions in some apps -- Try this with intensive games, in particular.
  • During the most extreme cases, the camera flash will be disabled as visible in the camera UI -- Can you not even use your phone's camera flash anymore?
  • Apps refreshing in background may require reloading upon launch -- Apps that normally pull in new data, even when you're not using them...did they stop doing that all of a sudden?

Of course, there are other reasons why some of these performance issues might occur -- so be sure to try our eight-point guide to speeding up your old, tired iPhone to make sure it's not something else.

Speaking of which, Apple says the following parts of your phone aren't impacted by battery-related throttling at all:

  • Cellular call quality and networking throughput performance
  • Captured photo and video quality
  • GPS performance
  • Location accuracy
  • Sensors like gyroscope, accelerometer, barometer
  • Apple Pay

So if you see those things fail, you may have a different issue.