Apple may be making billions of dollars in profits every year, but there are times when it needs to shell out millions for its alleged misdeeds. The company was famously involved in a controversy involving the throttling of older iPhones in the past.
Now, France's consumer fraud watchdog has slapped the iPhone maker with a fine of 25 million euros (approximately $27 million) for deliberately slowing down older iPhone models without telling the users that software updates may slow down their iPhones.
Apple failed to tell people that it was slowing down their iPhones
The fine was imposed by the French DGCCRF (General Directorate for Competition Policy, Consumer Affairs and Fraud control), which said the reason behind the fine was because Apple hadn't warned the consumers that it was slowing down their phones through software updates.
However, Apple in 2017 confirmed that it did slow down some iPhones, but said that it did so to make the iPhones last longer. "iPhone owners were not informed that installing iOS updates (10.2.1 and 11.2) could slow down their devices," the DGCCRF said in a statement.
Apple's okay with paying the fine
Apple released a statement saying that it welcomed the decision of the DGCCRF and had resolved the issue with the watchdog. "Our goal has always been to create secure products appreciated by our clients, and making iPhones that last as long as possible is an important part of that," Apple said in a statement.
The infamous iPhone throttling scandal
The whole iPhone throttling scandal erupted in December 2017, when the American tech giant admitted that its iOS software was slowing down the performance on older iPhones in order to conserve battery, and "prolong the life" of the iPhones.
Critics accused Apple of using this "unethical" strategy to force consumers for buying newer iPhones. The episode led Apple to upgrade its software and also come up with its battery replacement program where it offered steep discounts on battery replacement for eligible iPhone models.
Meanwhile, a lot of customers long suspected Apple of slowing down their phones via software updates, thus encouraging them to upgrade to a new iPhone whenever a new one was released. This forced the French prosecutors to launch an inquiry into the matter in January 2018 on the behest of the Halt Planned Obsolescence Association (HOP).
Apple admitted in December 2017, that it was indeed throttling older iPhones but it was doing so only to prolong their batteries, saying that the lithium-ion battery in the devices became less capable of supplying peak current demand as they aged over time. Apple said that this resulted in the iPhone shutting down unexpectedly to protect its electronic components.
The tech company reportedly released a software update for the iPhone 6, iPhone 6S and the iPhone SE which "smoothed out" the battery performance. A Redditor famously shared performance tests on Reddit which confirm that Apple was indeed involved in the practice. The tests suggested that the user's iPhone 6S had slowed down considerably as it aged, but it suddenly regained peak performance after the battery was replaced.
Apple still continues the practice
Meanwhile, Apple still continues to throttle the performance on several iPhones, including newer models such as the iPhone XS, XS Max and iPhone XR running iOS 13.1 or higher. However, Apple says "the effects of performance management on these newer models may be less noticeable die to their more advanced hardware and software design."