Apple admits what many iPhone owners long suspected: It has slowed older phones.

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The tech giant issued a rare statement of explanation on Thursday, saying that it has used software updates to limit the performance of older iPhones that may have battery issues that would cause them to turn off suddenly.

Tech analysts and angry customers have reported in recent days that operating system updates had caused older iPhones to slow considerably, with some suggesting that Apple could be using the tactic to encourage fans to buy new phones.

Apple insists the updates were made with a different goal in mind: It said the performance of lithium-ion batteries degrades over time, which can sometimes cause phones to suddenly shut down in order to protect their components.

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