Apple & Samsung Fined Millions For Slowing Down Phones

Earlier this year, Italy’s antitrust organization investigated Apple and Samsung to determine if the tech giants purposely used software updates to slow down people’s cell phones. The Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (AGCM) has since concluded its investigation and is fining both companies for violating multiple consumer rules, according to various media outlets.

The antitrust group said “Apple and Samsung implemented dishonest commercial practices” and that operating system updates “caused serious malfunctions and significantly reduced performance, thus accelerating phones’ substitution,” (via The Guardian).

Apple has been fined €5 million (CAD$7.45 million) after owners of iPhone 6 models installed iOS 10 and experienced some issues. The new iOS, developed for the iPhone 7, required more energy and unexpectedly shut down older iPhones with older batteries. Apple’s solution was an update called 10.2.1, which throttled CPUs on older phones in order to prevent the shutdowns. The company did not disclose to consumers that it was slowing down the systems on their devices.

AGCM fined Apple an additional $7.45 million for not informing customers about battery life and ways to maintain and replace them.

Samsung has also been fined $7.45 million due to a malfunction that occurred on the Note 4 after the Android Marshmallow 6.0.1 update (intended for the Galaxy Note 7) was installed. The Note 4 was unable to handle the firmware update, requiring consumers to pay pricey repair costs because the device was no longer under warranty.

Apple’s actions were much more publicized than Samsung’s debacle, but there were many consumer complaints online about issues on the Note 4 such as battery drain and data connection dropouts, reports The Verge.

AGCM pointed out that Samsung did not inform consumers that these problems could occur and the company should have done so.

The installation of newer firmware on older iPhone and Samsung devices “caused serious dysfunctions and reduced performance significantly, thereby accelerating the process of replacing them,” according to AGCM.

Last December Apple acknowledged it slowed down the operating systems of iPhones with ageing batteries using software updates in order to avoid a shutdown. However, the company denied accusations it purposely tried to shorten the life of the devices.

In a mea culpa, Apple apologized and offered a price reduction for battery replacements.

Meanwhile, France is conducting its own investigation into the practice. It is illegal in the country to intentionally shorten the life of a product in order to boost sales.

Legal procedures are also underway in the United States over the slowing of iPhones.

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