Italy fines Apple $11.4 million for throttling older iPhones

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Samsung had to pay up as well.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Italy’s antitrust watchdog has fined Apple 10 million euros ($11.4 million) for slowing down iPhones with aging batteries. The country also hit Samsung with a fine of 5 million euros ($5.7 million) for issuing software updates to artificially slow down its mobile phones.

Apple’s got slapped with an extra 5 million euros for failing to give customers clear information about maintaining and replacing iPhone batteries.

In a statement, the Italian Competition Authority said Apple and Samsung had “implemented dishonest commercial practices” that amounted to planned obsolescence. The antitrust officials said the companies’ operating system updates “caused serious malfunctions and significantly reduced performance, thus accelerating phones’ substitution.”

It also noted that there had been a lack of communication regarding the impact of the software and how customers could restore “the original functionality of the products.”

iPhone throttling

At the start of this year, Apple admitted to slowing down older iPhones with an iOS update. Cupertino said it throttled phones with degraded lithium-ion batteries to ward off crashes.

That’s a fair point to make, but an iPhone throttling controversy ensued nonetheless. Consumers grew upset that Apple slowed down their iPhones without their express permission. As a result, Apple was hit with multiple class-action lawsuits around the world.

The company attempted to make good by reducing the cost of out-of-warranty iPhone battery replacements to $29, and later gave users the ability to disable iPhone throttling.

Nonetheless, this incident proved damaging to Apple’s reputation. The irony of Samsung being charged is certainly notable, however. Soon after the controversy broke, Samsung leaped on it to diss Apple in one of its ads. In retrospect, that seems kind of disingenuous.

In a statement to The Washington Post, Samsung said it was disappointed by the Italian group’s ruling. The South Korean company also said plans to appeal.

“Samsung did not issue any software update that reduced the Galaxy Note 4′s performance,” Samsung said. “In contrast, Samsung has always released software updates enabling our customers to have the best experience possible.”

Sources: The Guardian and Reuters