Who doesn't like a speedy device whose level of performance is top-notch? We all do. And if you're using an iPhone, you may be expecting so much more. However, France’s competition watchdog DGCCRF recently fined Apple $27.4 million (€25 million) for slowing down the performance of old iPhone models without telling consumers it had done so.
Apple Gets Slammed Huge Fine
The DGCCRF (Directorate-General for Competition, Consumption and the Suppression of Fraud) has slammed Apple with a $27.4 million fine. According to the French watchdog, the American technology company intentionally made older models of the iPhone slow without informing consumers.
As such, it misled users to think that their old iPhone is getting bad, and needs to be replaced with a new one. It, therefore, meant more sales for Apple each time a new iPhone model is launched. What's more, the lag in operation was caused by users upgrading to one of the latest iOS versions such as the 10.2.1 or 11.2.
"The DGCCRF has indeed shown that iPhone owners had not been informed that the updates of the iOS operating system (10.2.1 and 11.2) they installed were likely to slow down the operation of their device," the French watchdog said.
On the other hand, Apple has agreed to pay the fine, and also meet another demand from the watchdog. It will now have to put up the phrase, "committed the crime of deceptive commercial practice by omission," on the French version of its website, for a month.
Apple Admitted it Slows Down Older Models of the iPhone
Reportedly, Apple had owned up to the fact that it slows down older models of the iPhone in 2017. According to the company, it had done so to prolong the life of the phone, but not to encourage people to upgrade to newer devices.
In this case, as the device's battery gets old, it is unable to support the phone's demand for quick peaks of power. The latter could lead to unexpected shutdowns to preserve the electronic components. For this reason, each time the user updates their iOS version, it slows down the phone's performance so that the degrading battery can support it.
Consequently, users who noticed that their device had begun to slow down while gaming or carrying out other operations felt it was because of its age-long performance. Hence, they purchased a new model of the iPhone. But, all they had to do was change the battery of the old iPhone and its performance will be back to normal.
Was This Apple's Strategy to Sell More Phones?
Accordingly, the watchdog notes that not informing these users that a software update would cause their device to lag, was a marketing scheme. Also, it left users in the dark that all they needed to do, is to replace their battery instead of the phone entirely. In line with that, Apple made it impossible to return to a lower iOS version after the update had been made.
Smartphones That Were Affected by the Slow Down in Performance
Some iPhones that were affected include:
- iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6S, 6S Plus
- iPhone SE
- iPhone 7 and 7 Plus
- iPhone 8 and 8 Plus (iOS 12.1 or higher)
- iPhone X (iOS 12.1 or higher)
- iPhone XS, XS Max and XR (iOS 13.1 or higher)
While the lag in performance may be more noticeable on older models of the iPhone like the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6S, and 6S Plus, it is less noticeable on newer models. Explaining why that is, Apple said: "The effects of performance management on these newer models may be less noticeable due to their more advanced hardware and software design."
In December 2017, the American company had apologized to users of its smartphones for not being more transparent with the way it handled the battery and phone's performance. The company also agreed to reduce the cost of battery replacement, from $79 to $29, for devices that were affected.