Italy fines Apple, Samsung for slowing phones

Apple and Samsung fined over performance-throttling software updates

Apple and Samsung have been fined for deliberately forcing users to upgrade to newer and more expensive phones thanks to the "planned obsolescence" of their older devices.

Two "complex investigations" by the anti-trust authority AGCM revealed thatboth firms implemented unfair commercial practices, a statement said.

While $5.7 million for Samsung (or $11.5 million for Apple) is essentially chump change, the fine still represents a concerted effort to create a legal precedent that "Batterygate" and the "Samsung slow down" are things which really happen and need to be monitored.

Apple users with iPhone 6 devices were likewise urged to update to new software intended for iPhone 7 "without warning consumers that its installation could reduce the speed of execution and functionality of devices". The performance seemed to suffer on devices with batteries in poor condition.

Essentially, the court found that Apple and Samsung are responsible for intentionally slowing down the performance of their phones in order to make customers more likely to buy new ones. Apple later released a fix to the problem, iOS 10.2.1, but consumers weren't warned that it would throttle CPUs on older devices.

Last December, Apple admitted that it slows down older iPhones to offset battery problems. Again, neither companies disclosed users this was happening nor did they provide any way restore the original functionality. According to the statement, the Android 6.0 Marshmallow update caused multiple malfunctions on the Galaxy Note 4, and Samsung increased the cost of fixing those issues.

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While such fines are great to see from an industry watchdog perspective, neither Samsung nor Apple will be reeling from such tiny fines.

Now, Samsung has been fined for allegedly slowing down one of their older devices in an update.

The companies will be required to publish an "amending declaration" on their Italian websites with a link to the AGCM's ruling.

"In contrast, Samsung has always released software updates enabling our customers to have the best experience possible", it said. It also said that it would cooperate fully with the Italian Authority for Market and Competition during the investigation.

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

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