- France’s competition watchdog fined Apple $27 million for deliberately slowing down older iPhone models without telling users, as first reported by AppleInsider.
- Apple issued software updates in 2017 that capped the performance of iPhone 6, iPhone 7, and iPhone SE models whose aging batteries couldn’t handle surges in energy use.
- However, the company didn’t notify users that it was slowing down their devices or that replacing the battery could fix the issue.
- Apple has faced fines for this practice before, but the amounts have been tiny relative to Apple’s sales.
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Apple has been fined €25 million (approximately $27.4 million) by a French regulator for intentionally capping the performance on older iPhone models without notifying users, as first reported by AppleInsider.
France’s competition watchdog, the Directorate General for Competition, Consumption and the Suppression of Fraud (DGCCRF), said in a press release Friday that software updates Apple issued in 2017 were likely to cause some phones to experience slowdowns, and that Apple had mislead customers by not telling them about the change or allowing them to revert to older software.
The DGCCRF said Apple has agreed to pay the fine — an amount equivalent to the income Apple makes in under three hours, based on its lastest quarterly earnings report — as well as post a press release on its website for one month acknowledging the fine.
The updates, which affected iPhone 6, iPhone 7, and iPhone SE models, limited or “throttled” maximum performance levels to prevent the devices from trying to draw too much power from aging batteries and potentially causing the device to crash.
However, the DGCCRF said Apple failed to inform users that the issues they were experiencing were the result of the software updates or that replacing the battery — rather than the entire phone — could fix things. Apple also didn’t allow device owners to revert to previous versions of its software, meaning they were stuck with the performance caps.
Apple faced significant backlash for the practice outside of France as well, including multiple lawsuits that eventually led the company to publicly apologize and issue some free battery replacements for customers whose phones were impacted. In 2018, An Italian watchdog also fined Apple and Samsung each around $5.7 million for throttling old phones, and Apple an additional $5.7 million for not giving customers clear information about how to replace batteries.