Does Apple intentionally make old iPhones slower? The truth behind “planned obsolescence”

It's around September when Apple users and fanboys look at their beloved iPhone and think "I can do better than you". Compared to the new iPhone your old iPhone seems ugly, tired and... slower?

Laura Trucco, a PhD student of economics at Harvard, has taken a strike at the Apple conspiracy theorists who claim that Apple make their phones worse, on purpose.

With the aid of big data and Google Trends Laura found that the release of a new iPhone caused a huge global spike of the search term "iPhone slow". This is not conclusive evidence that the phones are actually slower but consumers certainly feel that way.

In the same way Usain Bolt made everyone else in the world feel a little (or a lot) slower in 2012 by being that much better than 7 billion other people, the release of a new phone just demonstrates how far technology has come in a year and by comparison everything else looks worse.

Read more: Apple is allegedly delaying the iPhone 6 phablet on purpose

To ensure that it was specifically iPhones Laura compared "iPhone slow" to "Samsung Galaxy slow" and found that the number of searches for the Galaxy rose steadily with no noticeable spikes when the newest Galaxy is released.

However this is still conjecture and anecdotal evidence. All the (big) data tells us is that there is a perceived slowdown of the iPhone when a new iPhone is released. But remember that Apple also tend to release a new iOS with each iPhone iteration and it makes sense for them to optimise the new software for the new hardware. Further evidence to explain the search spikes is that roughly a fifth of Android users have the latest OS 90 per cent of iPhone users update to the newer software.

But if each year one's old new phone becomes sluggish and unresponsive then surely all it would take is someone to bring out a phone that didn't make itself obsolete? Arguably this has already happened with Samsung's market share being nearly double Apples.

Read more: Samsung Galaxy S5 or Apple iPhone 5S: Which should I buy?

Naturally Apple has refused to comment on whether they make their phone's lifespan intentionally short and have much to gain from the millions of iPhone users needing to upgrade their device annually.