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Italy fines Apple, Samsung for slowing phones

Italy fines Apple, Samsung for slowing phones

Italy's competition authority on Wednesday said it was fining Apple and Samsung 10 and five million euros (over R160 million and over R80 million) respectively for the "planned obsolescence" of their smartphones.

Both companies deny they deliberately set out to slow down older phones, but the Italian authorities were not persuaded and clearly felt it was a case of "built-in obsolescence" - where products are created to fall apart before they need to in order to drive sales of newer models.

Specifically, the AGCM said insistent requests were made by manufacturers for consumers to download and install updates on devices that were not able to adequately support them and provided no means of restoring original functionality.

The former has been hit with an additional 5 million Euros (~RM24 million) for failing to provide clear information about maintaining and replacing iPhone batteries to its customers. "Samsung did not issue any software update that reduced the Galaxy Note 4's performance". The performance seemed to suffer on devices with batteries in poor condition.

Unlike Apple, the South Korean company's software updates for its phones have not previously been questioned. This was the result of Apple admitting that they slow down old iPhones with updates and gave a decent reason for their actions.

Samsung said it was "disappointed" with the decision and said it would appeal.

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The Italian authorities see things differently. Also, both companies will be required to post notices with links to this decision by the Authority on their Italian websites.

The 5 million euro fine was the maximum allowed.

The decision to fine Samsung is a bit of a puzzler, as the performance impact of its updates hasn't attracted almost the same level of criticism as Apple's.

The ACGM said 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".

A similar investigation is still ongoing in France, where it's illegal to shorten a product's life span to boost sales, the Guardian reports. While it may not have been limiting CPU speeds, many users have complained about their older handsets feeling sluggish after major OS updates, including flagship ones like the Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy Note 8.