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Apple Slapped With $41 Million Fine After Slowing Old iPhones

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The French consumer watchdog has slapped Apple with a €25 million euro fine, amounting to AUD $49 million, for deliberately slowing down older devices.

The iPhone-maker has previously admitted to the practice and even faced a class action in 2017 for the practice but has now apologised for not informing consumers.

Evidence first emerged in 2017 that the tech giant had used a software update to limit and slow the performance of older iPhones, feeding into a long-held conspiracy theory that the company uses the tactic to encourage customers to purchase a new iPhone.

In December 2017, the company admitted to the practice and clarified that it had slowed the devices for the purpose of protecting them. Apple said that as the phones’ battery age, the risk that higher levels of performance will suck up battery power or force the phone to unexpectedly restart.

(Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire)

The company’s theory was, by making phones with older batteries slower, they became more stable and would work efficiently for longer.

But France’s Directorate General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Prevention (DGCCRF) disagrees, saying the body found Apple’s lack of transparency had breached its guidelines.

‘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 body said in a statement.

The statement also added that Apple had ‘committed the crime of deceptive commercial practice by omission.’

Following the initial controversy that sparked in 2017, Apple cut the prices of a battery replacement service from $119 to $39 for out-of-warranty old iPhones in Australia. It currently costs $79.

Apple continues to apply performance throttling to iPhones as the batteries get older, with 2018’s iPhone XS, XS Max and XR being the latest devices to have the setting applied.

Apple says performance of the devices is only affected if the software detects high heat, impedance or battery discharge.

Apple was reached for a statement and has declined to comment.

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