Author of the nytimes article probably should have hit ctrl-a and pressed delete when she typed the word "imagination" or "seemed". The human brain has a well documented tendency to manufacture patterns when no such thing exists. Without actual measurements and data logging changes over time, any conclusions are 100% garbage.
Also, as the article points out, the device got used. She very probably fell into an usage pattern where the diminished battery didn't matter. Then iOS 7 came and her usage got disrupted. And yes, iOS 7 probably uses a bit more energy, as it does more.
But mostly: Usage. My 2011 MacBook Air's battery is down to about 80% or so. after 206 cycles. There's no way a moderately or possible even heavy used iPhone 4 has that few cycles.
Either you can handle the fact that technology gets obsolete rather quickly these days, or it bothers you. Typically, the bothering occurs after the new OS installs itself on your old gizmo.
Yesterday I found an iPhone 5 in the street. I extracted the intact logic board form the battered case and handed it to my son. He asked for an older cell phone for comparison. So I got out a 1985 Motorola cell phone electronics package (the size of a standard red brick) and handed it to him.
You can guess where this is heading. We looked at where the factors of a million of technology improvement came into play on the Apple phone.
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