Apple and Samsung fined for deliberately slowing down phones

Fredrick Soto
October 26, 2018

"Apple and Samsung implemented unfair commercial practices", the Italian competition authority said in a statement.

The watchdog in Rome said that they took advantage of "the significant information asymmetry of consumers vis-a-vis the producers" to achieve this.

Apple also received a second €5 million fine for not providing consumers with information about the average lifespan of their phone's batteries, and how to replace and maintain them.

"Samsung did not issue any software update that reduced the Galaxy Note 4's performance", a spokesman said.

When Apple was caught throttling devices, the community was upset mostly because Apple didn't disclose it. This is following complaints that their software updates had qualities of planned obsolescence, hindering the performance of their own older phones. Apple put out a fix in an update (10.2.1) which resolved the problem by throttling their phone's CPU, which made the phone run slower.

A watchdog group called the Italian Authority for Market and Competition just issued South Korean electronics giant Samsung a fine for 5 million euros (~$5.7 million), via SamMobile. This was the result of Apple admitting that they slow down old iPhones with updates and gave a decent reason for their actions.

The authority said the companies were given the "maximum prescribed fines" due to their size and the seriousness of the allegations brought against them.

Samsung in January said that it "does not provide the software updates to reduce the product performance over the life cycle of the device, according to reports". In addition, Apple did not offer any specific support measures for iPhones that had experienced such operating problems and were no longer covered by the legal warranty; only in December 2017 Apple provided for the possibility to replace batteries at a discounted price.

Both firms are now required to publish a declaration on the Italian versions of their websites telling customers about the authority's decision. And they did so without explaining the impact of the update, without sufficient support and with no way of restoring the original functionality.

Teenagers posing with their Samsung Galaxy S4 (left) and iPhone 4 smartphones.

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