Ever wonder why your iPhone seems to slow down after a few years? Why the once-amazing device gets cranky and struggles to perform basic tasks or load apps?

The answer lies in Apple’s software, and it’s a key part of the company’s strategy to keep millions of people buying new iPhones.

Apple releases a new mobile operating system every year, and that keeps a powerful cycle in motion. Each fall for the last few years, people have rushed to download the latest and greatest version of iOS, which is designed for — and, as a result, works best on — the newest hardware that is also released around the same time. In the months leading up to the release, many app developers furiously update their apps for the latest operating system.

Here’s how that affects you: If you have an iPhone that’s more than two years old, and as Apple recommends, you’ve upgraded the operating system a couple of times since you bought it, you may find yourself wanting to throw your phone against a wall. It’s likely gotten slow and finicky.

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