Apple & Samsung Fined Millions for Purposefully Slowing Down Phones

Ann Santiago
October 26, 2018

Apple and Samsung are being fined €10 and €5m respectively in Italy for the "planned obsolescence" of their smartphones.

Hopefully this action will be enough to ensure that phone manufacturers check new software updates on all phone models the update will be circulated to, and not just the newest one they have on the market.

Italian antitrust agency Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (AGCM) has issued fines against both companies, stating that they violated consumer codes and "caused serious dysfunctions and reduced performance significantly, thereby accelerating the process of replacing them". Buyers are encouraged to acquire the handsets under contract with a mobile network, paying a higher monthly fee to avoid having to find hundreds of pounds up-front to buy the devices SIM-free, and then further encouraged to get rid of the handsets and upgrade to a shiny new device at the end of the contract period. Now it looks like Apple wasn't the only company throttling the old devices.

Essentially, the court found that Apple and Samsung are responsible for intentionally slowing down the performance of their phones in order to make customers more likely to buy new ones.

Following the media and consumer backlash, Apple released an update that allowed users to opt-out of the throttling feature. The company admitted in December past year that it was indeed throttling older iPhones because the aging batteries within them could not keep up. It's chump change. Assuming both companies don't immediately contest the ruling, they'll easily be able to absorb this hit and carry on as if nothing happened.

Both firms must publish a declaration on their Italian websites telling consumers of the authority's decision.

Samsung, on the other hand, insisted that it "has always released software updates enabling our customers to have the best experience possible", and will appeal the decision.

It also added that the two companies didn't provide users with adequate information about the impact of the new updates nor did they provide them with any means of "restoring the original functionality of the products". The authority also argued that Apple should have issued instructions about replacing the battery in the iPhone. Apple has apologized and it cut the costs of battery replacement for iPhone 6 and 6s models since.

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