France fines Apple $27 million for iPhone 'throttling' controversy | Cult of Mac

France fines Apple $27 million for iPhone ‘throttling’ controversy

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France fines Apple $27 million for intention iPhone 'throttling' controversy
iPhone throttling case was heavily publicized in early 2018.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple has been fined 25 million euros ($27.4 million) in France after being found guilty of intentionally throttling the speed of older iPhones with previous software updates for iOS.

In 2018, Apple admitted that these updates slowed older devices. However, it has always insisted that it did this to prolong the life of aging lithium-ion batteries.

The Directorate General for Competition, Consumption and the Suppression of Fraud’s issue is not just that Apple instituted this feature without telling users, but that by stopping signing older releases of its operating system versions (which Apple does to make sure as many people as possible are using the latest version) it stopped users from downgrading again. As a press release notes (translated):

“Unable to revert to the previous version of the operating system, many consumers would have been forced to change their batteries or even buy a new phone.”

In addition to the fine, Apple must publish a press release on its website for one month. The two versions of iOS mentioned in the press release are iOS 10.2.1 and iOS 11.2.

France and beyond: iPhone throttling drama

The iPhone slowdown case broke in early 2018. It triggered investigations in a number of countries. One of the most notable was South Korea, where 370,000 individuals — or the equivalent of one out of every 138 people who live in the country — signed up to join a class action suit against Apple.

As a make-good, Apple reduced the price of out-of-warranty iPhone battery replacements by $50. This battery replacement program impacted on Apple’s iPhone sales in late 2018. Specifically, it caused it to revise its earnings guidance for the first time in years.

More recently, Apple added a feature letting users turn off the Performance Management option. If you do this, your iPhone will stop slowing performance when the battery is too weak to supply enough power. However, this can cause unexpected shutdowns on your device. A “how to” article by my colleague Charlie Sorrel explains how to do this if you so wish.