Apple & Samsung Fined Millions for Intentionally Slowing Older Phones in ‘Planned Obsolescence’

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After the completion of a pair of “complex investigations,” Apple and Samsung, two of the most prominent smartphone makers on the planet, were fined approximately $11.5 million and $5.7 million respectively over the “planned obsolescence” of their devices. Both companies were found to have intentionally slowed older smartphones to encourage users to buy new phones.

The investigations were completed by the Italian anti-trust authority, AGCM, according to a report by the Daily Mail.

Investigators determined that operating system updates on older devices slowed them down, acting as a form of encouragement for the user to purchase a new device. The companies were ultimately revealed to have been using unfair commercial practices, according to a statement.

“The two companies have induced consumers to install software updates that are not adequately supported by their devices, without adequately informing them, nor providing them an effective way to recover the full functionality of their devices,’ said the AGCM.

When downloaded on older devices, the updates “caused serious malfunctions and significantly reduced their performance, in this way speeding up their replacement with more recent products.”

In an example, AGCM state that Samsung “insistently suggested” that 2014 Note 4 users install a new version of the Android operating system, one that was actually intended for the Note 7, “without informing them of the serious malfunctions that the new firmware could cause due to greater stress of device’s hardware and asking a high repair cost for out-of-warranty repairs connected to such malfunctions.”

Similarly, the investigators determined that Apple “insistently suggested” iPhone 6 users install a version of iOS designed for the iPhone 7 “without warning consumers that its installation could reduce the speed of execution and functionality of devices.”

AGCM added that 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.”

The ruling in Italy is thought to be the first of its kind, even though accusations against the manufacturers regarding the practice have been widespread for years.

Both companies were fined the maximum amount allowed, with Apple paying twice the amount that Samsung faces since the company had two contested practices.