iOS 14.5.1 appears “random frequency reduction”, firmware update may be a “double-edged sword”

At the time of writing this article, iOS has begun to push the first version of the iOS 14.7 beta to developers. At the same time, the stable version of iOS is temporarily maintained at 14.5.1, and the verification of the iOS 14.5 version has been closed, and the official version of iOS 14.6 should be on the way.

Why emphasize these? Nothing else, because iOS 14.5.1 is not a really stable version, but there are "Schrodinger" bugs, which will cause obvious performance degradation of the iPhone.

Whether it is a foreign Macrumors forum or a domestic V2EX, many iPhone users have discovered and encountered performance bugs in iOS 14.5.1, which has nothing to do with the old and new iPhone models.

They found that the iPhone in hand (there are iPhone 12, iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 Pro Max) found that the obvious frequency reduction and performance reduction are mostly in the Geekbench running score or game, the frequency reduction is obvious, and the experience is stuck.

Therefore, in order to verify this problem, a YouTuber tested the iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 with iOS 14.5.1. In the Geekbench running score, the score was not as good as the iPhone XR.

Some users on the Macrumors forum are based on the question of truth-seeking. After intense exchanges and discussions, they have basically figured out the existence of the "Schrodinger" bug in iOS 14.5.1 and how to eliminate it.

▲ GeekBench test results of the same iPhone 12 Pro Max iOS 14.6 Beta 3 firmware vs iOS 14.5.1 firmware. Picture from: Macrumors

Let’s talk about performance. Take an iPhone 12 Pro Max that has been recruited as an example. In GeekBench, the iOS 14.5.1 firmware is ordered with a core 1217 multi-core 2353, and after upgrading to the iOS 14.6 Beta 3 version, a single core 1640 with a multi-core 4210 , The gap between the front and the back is not small. To be exaggerated, there is about an A8 processor between the two results, which is an iPhone 6.

As for the probability of this bug, it is currently speculated that it may really belong to "Schrödinger". It appears randomly. iPhones that encounter a frequency reduction bug may be restored after restarting, while iPhones that did not have frequency reduction before may encounter them again after restarting. . Regarding this, the netizen on V2EX said that "there is no solution, I can only restart by hitting the big luck."

▲ The update log of iOS 14.6 Beta 3 & iPadOS 14.6 Beta 3. Picture from: Apple

The YouTuber who first discovered the frequency reduction bug in iOS 14.5.1 contacted Apple, but Apple did not respond positively. Instead, it wrote in the update log of iOS 14.6 Beta 3 & iPadOS 14.6 Beta 3, "Fix iPhone may decrease after restart. "Performance problems" basically confirmed the existence of this down-frequency locking bug in iOS 14.5.1, but the impact is narrow.

In addition to the restart solution similar to "open blind box", some netizens also said that "turn off the search network in the Find My iPhone submenu" can also be solved, "my iPhone 11 clock speed is restored to 2664mHz, which is much silky."

After Apple launched iOS 14.5.1, the signature verification of iOS 14.5 was turned off. Therefore, for the iPhone currently in the iOS 14.5.1 bug, the only way to solve it is to upgrade to the Beta system (now it is iOS 14.7 Beta).

Although iOS 14.7 Beta is an update of the minor version number, it is still a beta version. There will be some stability and compatibility issues. It is not recommended for users of the main machine. Therefore, there is no one-time solution for the current iOS 14.5.1 frequency reduction bug, and the current method has more or less trade-offs.

The famous “frequency reduction gate'' in iOS history

I believe that experienced Apple users should have heard about the iPhone down-frequency lock function caused by firmware problems, which is the more famous "battery door" and "down-frequency door" on the iPhone. In short, due to the attenuation of battery capacity, Apple reduced the processor frequency of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s through firmware, which caused performance loss and prevented automatic shutdown.

This "practice" was first discovered by netizens on Reddit and verified by the GeekBench software test. At the same time, GeekBench also confirmed that there are indeed performance differences in the same model using different versions of iOS.

For this, Apple stated in the related performance, "We will never do anything aimed at shortening the life of the product or reducing the user experience in order to promote product upgrades." But we all know the follow-up results. The official not only admitted that iOS 10.2.1 has added a limit to the peak performance of the old device’s processor to prevent automatic shutdown due to battery exhaustion.

As the sales of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s series top all the iPhone series, the spread is quite wide. In addition to the subsequent firmware removal "down frequency", Apple has also launched a preferential "replacement battery" campaign around the world, and in Europe, The United States and other places paid tens of millions of fines and 500 million US dollars in class-action settlements (approximately US$25 per mobile phone).

The current "Performance Door" on iOS 14.5.1 is actually somewhat similar to and somewhat different from the down-frequency lock that was widely used on older models. Similar is that it affects the normal use of some products, and it exists objectively.

The difference is that iOS 14.5.1 is not limited based on the device’s battery, processor, and other hardware information. It’s more like “random”. It may appear from iPhone 11 to iPhone 12 Pro Max, and the scope of the impact is not large. "From this point of view, it is actually more like a bug in the firmware, and it is a big bug in the official version of the firmware.

The most important thing is that before "we" discovered this bug, Apple has quietly turned off the signature verification of iOS 14.5. There is no perfect solution for the time being. The official iOS 14.6 firmware has been updated with two versions of RC (Release Candidate). I believe it is also testing and solving this "random frequency reduction" problem.

Google: "Frequency reduction? I am familiar with this too"

Not only Apple, but Google’s Pixel "pro son" also experienced similar performance losses due to firmware issues, and it was after the official version of Android 11 was updated last year.

After the launch of Android 11, the foreign technology media HotHardware passed a series of actual measurements. When Pixel 4 XL and Pixel 4a are running on Android 10 and Android 11, respectively, the graphics performance (GPU) drops by about 10%, resulting in the overall running score. The ups and downs are nearly 33%.

After being verified, HotHardware contacted Google and Qualcomm, but they did not give a clear answer.

In addition, Anandtech also stated that the performance of the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G pre-installed with Android 11 system (specifically GPU) is far behind other mobile phones equipped with Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor.

Until April 2021, Google released a new round of firmware updates for Pixel 3 to Pixel 5, and stated in the firmware description that this round of updates will focus on improving the camera, stability and performance. In this regard, the XDA Developers developer forum directly stated that this update is mainly to "enhance" the game performance of Pixel phones, that is, graphics performance.

When I first saw this news, if I didn't contact the previous news, I might have thought that Google had used "GPU Turbo" technology on Pixel phones. In fact, Google’s newly released firmware restores the original GPU performance, allowing a number of Pixel products to exert their original strength.

AnandTech editor Andrei F. said that after updating the new firmware, Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G have the same performance as other Snapdragon 765G processor phones, "even higher."

"Firmware" has become part of consumer electronics

Regarding the effect of "firmware" on performance, in fact, the scope is not limited to Apple's iOS and Google's Android systems, and the scope can be enlarged to many consumer electronic products.

In the world of smartphones, firmware updates can stabilize the system, add new features, and even unlock some hardware limitations (for example, a brand can solve the 90Hz high refresh screen through firmware push).

In camera products, the new firmware can bring better focusing speed and algorithms, and can also "unlock" stronger video shooting performance. Not to mention, some manufacturers will release more professional video performance in the form of paid firmware.

On electric vehicles, a firmware upgrade can release charging power or bring stronger "autonomous driving" performance.

Therefore, firmware is as important as the hardware foundation for consumer electronic products, and how long the "firmware" optimization can last has gradually become a reason for consumers to achieve purchase intentions. After all, for some products, the firmware upgrade can indeed get a better experience, and even feel like a new life. Such as the release of iPad OS, the upgrade of Tesla's new firmware, and some "chicken blood" firmware of Fuji cameras.

And this time iOS 14.5.1 and Android 11 bring a completely different experience. The impact of the "performance gate" is the first. I believe that the "frequency reduction" incident was not intentional, but just a "smelly bug".

In the context of system optimization and continuous advancement, such bugs are difficult to avoid. Perhaps "don't upgrade in the first time" and "be a party" can avoid this kind of "dilemma".

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