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Does your old iPhone feel slow? Here’s what to do before you sue Apple

By now you’ve probably heard that Apple has intentionally slowed down iPhones, just as some conspiracy theorists have been saying for all those years. It’s true, and Apple admitted as much. But the company isn’t slowing down iPhones to convince you to switch to a newer model. Instead, it’s to prevent unexpected shutdowns on older devices operating at peak power. Although yes, I will agree that some people may simply decide to upgrade their iPhones to a better model rather than deal with a slower device.

Before you upgrade your iPhone though, and before you join a class action suit against Apple, here’s what you should do if you notice your iPhone is slower than usual.

Back up your data

Regardless of what you’re going to do with your iPhone, back up your data to make sure you won’t lose contacts, pictures, or app content. Be sure to encrypt your data with a password on a Mac or Windows to preserve all the settings and passwords you’re using with the various apps you have installed on the iPhone.

Determine the age of your iPhone

iPhone slowdowns should affect older iPhones that have been in use for at least a year. If you just purchased a new iPhone and it’s slower than expected, just take it back to Apple. You must be the original owner of a device bought from Apple or its partners, or a device that’s still under warranty. Apple and its partners currently sell the following models: iPhone X, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone SE, and iPhone 6 (the last one is available only in specific markets and from certain carriers).

If you’ve purchased a model that’s older than the iPhone 6, don’t be surprised if it’s slow, or if it can’t even run the latest iOS release. You can still seek Apple’s help, but you may have to pay to have the phone fixed. You’d be much better off buying an iPhone 6s or newer model instead. Remember, the entry-level iPhone SE is an iPhone 6s in iPhone 5s clothing.

Do a fresh install

If you’ve got the time after you’ve backed up your data, you can try doing a clean iOS installation to see how your iPhone behaves. Do not restore your fresh backup yet. Instead, you could run Geekbench tests to see how fast your phone really is. If scores are standard, then something in your iOS backup (the OS and apps you had running on the phone) may have slowed down the device.

Determine the age of your battery

There’s no way to tell whether your iPhone has an old battery inside from the Settings app inside the iPhone. There are Mac and PC apps that’ll let you know how many recharge cycles your battery went through, however. coconutBattery and iMazing are two of them, and there are others. For example, my 66-day-old iPhone X has gone through 45 recharge cycles, as seen below. Both apps gave me the same number of cycles.

A two-year-old iPhone 6s will probably have more than 600 recharge cycles, which is a lot. Batteries do not age gracefully, especially smartphone batteries.

If your iPhone feels slow, you can simply go to Geekbench and measure the performance of your phone. This post should help you tell whether the speed of your iPhone is slower than expected. Take screenshots with the scores that show up in your Geekbench tests and save them somewhere safe.

Repeat the test after you’ve replaced the battery and take more screenshots, if you decide to go that route.

Replace the battery

If your phone is slower than it should be, then you should consider replacing your battery right now. It’ll cost you around $79 if you do it in an Apple store, and the phone should be fixed in about an hour. Don’t try to do this yourself, although it can be done if you’ve got the proper tools, and don’t take it to a third-party repair shop. You may be entitled to some sort of compensation down the road depending on what happens with all the lawsuits, so you’d better have your work done at Apple.

Even if you plan on upgrading to a newer iPhone, you should still have the battery of your old iPhone repaired, especially if you want to resell it or pass it on to someone in your family. What you shouldn’t do is wait for the class action cases to be resolved. Your battery performance and iPhone speed will probably continue to deteriorate and you want to use the phone’s full power right now, not when and if Apple decides to replace your battery for free.

By the way, if you’re an iPhone 6s owner who purchased the phone in the first few months after launch, you might be entitled to a free replacement — this is how you do it.

Join a class action suit

I completely agree that Apple hasn’t done its customers or itself any favors by concealing the practice of slowing down old iPhones in secret. And I wouldn’t blame you if you did decide to join a class action. But do it for the right reasons. Understand what’s happening. And before you do, make sure you qualify by following the previous steps. Fix your iPhone yourself — again, in an Apple store — even if you do join a case against Apple. After all, you shouldn’t settle for a sub-par iPhone experience while you wait for Apple to settle these cases.

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he closely follows the events in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises. Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.