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For anyone not upgrading to the newest iPhone X which is available for purchase today, it's likely you'll start to notice or wonder why your older generation iPhone seems to have not been working as well lately.

The big picture: According to Google Trends data, every time Apple has released its newest iPhone or OS in the past, there have been significant spikes in searches for terms like “iPhone not working," “iPhone slow," and “iPhone problems."

Expand chart
Data: Google Trends; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

Why it's happening: This has led to a conspiracy theory that has been revived almost every year, claiming that Apple intentionally slows down old phones to entice iPhone users to upgrade to their newest, often more expensive product. But the phenomenon can also be explained by a few other reasons.

  • Older models have to work harder to run everything the newest, superior OS provides, and therefore consume more energy and battery life, Carolina Milanesi, an analyst for Creative Strategies, explained to Axios. "In the Android world, it's hard to see that because most phones do not get an upgrade to the latest OS. With Apple it's more obvious because the upgrade rate to the latest OS is very high."
  • Apps are upgraded: "One very important thing to consider is that at the same time of an OS upgrade, application developers upgrade their applications. Therefore at the same time the new OS is indexing for Spotlight, it is updating applications, which temporarily would slow down the phone," Patrick Moorhead, an analyst for Moor Insights Strategy told Axios. He pointed out that this slowness is usually just short-term, which would explain why searches drop back down fairly quickly.
  • Psychology: Most iPhone users are quick to update to the newest OS, and tend to be critical of every included change. This critical mindset might cause some to feel like like their phone is working slower than before at first. This could also explain why the interest spike quickly tapers off after a new release.

Case study: Last week, Futuremark released their own study on the performance and battery life of iPhones shortly after a new OS is announced. Their study found that new iOS's did not have any real effect on any model's GPU and CPU scores, which measure performance levels by running a demanding series of tests.

Bottom line: Nothing has been "proven" here, but there are many logical explanations for why iPhones might not run quite as smoothly after an OS update that don't include Apple maliciously hacking their own products.

Go deeper

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Sources say Beto plans Texas comeback in governor’s race

Former U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke speaks during the Georgetown to Austin March for Democracy rally on July 31, 2021, in Austin, Texas. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke is preparing to run for governor of Texas in 2022, with an announcement expected later this year, Texas political operatives tell Axios.

Why it matters: O'Rourke's entry would give Democrats a high-profile candidate with a national fundraising network to challenge Republican Gov. Greg Abbott — and give O’Rourke, a former three-term congressman from El Paso and 2020 presidential candidate and voting rights activist, a path to a political comeback.

Texas doctor says he performed an abortion in violation of state law

Pro-choice protesters march down Congress Avenue and back to the Texas state capitol in Austin, Texas, in July 2021. Photo: Erich Schlegel/Getty Images

A Texas doctor disclosed in an op-ed in the Washington Post on Saturday that he has performed an abortion in violation of the state's restrictive new abortion law, which effectively bans the procedure after six weeks.

Why it matters: Alan Braid's op-ed is a direct disclosure that will very likely result in legal action, thereby setting it up as a potential test case for how the abortion ban will be litigated, notes the New York Times.

Mike Allen, author of AM
6 hours ago - Technology

Axios interview: Facebook to try for more transparency

Nick Clegg last year. Photo: Matthew Sobocinski/USA Today via Reuters

Nick Clegg, Facebook's vice president of global affairs, tells me the company will try to provide more data to outside researchers to scrutinize the health of activity on Facebook and Instagram, following The Wall Street Journal's brutal look at internal documents.

Driving the news: Clegg didn't say that in his public response to the series. So I called him to push for what Facebook will actually do differently given the new dangers raised by The Journal.

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