France is investigating Apple over throttling iPhone speeds

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iphone 8
Apple is accused of purposely slowing older iPhones to push customers to upgrade.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

French consumer watchdog DGCCRF, part of the country’s economy ministry, is investigating Apple over its alleged deception concerning the “throttling” of older iPhone models.

French law makes it a crime to purposely shorten the lifespan of a product in order to force customers to replace it. In the event that a company is found guilty of this, it can face fines of up to five percent of its annual sales.

The complaint against Apple was filed by French pro-consumer group Stop Planned Obsolescence (HOP). “The slowing down of older devices seems to have the deliberate aim of pushing Apple customers towards purchasing the new model,” the group claims.

News about the willful slowing down of older iPhone batteries coincided with the launch of the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, which was expected to be part of a “supercycle” for Apple, achieving record sales.

The French investigation into Apple could reportedly take months to complete, and may lead to the charges either being dropped or passed on to a judge to carry out a more in-depth investigation.

Apple’s iPhone speed throttling

Apple has already admitted to slowing down iPhones as they get older, although it maintains that this is done to prolong the life of their lithium-ion batteries — thereby maintaining performance and allowing them to run for longer between charges.

“Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, have a low battery charge or as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components,” Apple has explained. “Last year we released a feature for iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone SE to smooth out the instantaneous peaks only when needed to prevent the device from unexpectedly shutting down during these conditions.”

It’s a reasonable argument (and a technically smart solution), but that hasn’t stopped people from being upset. Not only does it feed into the sometimes accusation that Apple pushes people to upgrade to its latest products as quickly as possible, but Apple is also accused of not being transparent enough about the solution it came up with.

As a result, Apple faces multiple class action lawsuits concerning iPhone throttling, and demands for explanations from authorities in countries including Brazil and South Korea.

As a make-good Apple has notified customers that it will reduce the price on out-of-warranty iPhone battery replacements by $50, putting the cost at just $29. The offer covers anyone with an iPhone 6 or later whose battery needs to be replaced. Customers can take advantage of the new price starting in late January. It will be available worldwide until December 2018.

Source: Guardian

Via: The Inquirer