Apple is facing a French criminal probe after allegations from consumer groups that it’s slowing down old iPhones on purpose. Paris prosecutors confirmed the probe today, as first spotted by Bloomberg.
Apple apologized to customers on December 28th for intentionally slowing down the processors used in the iPhone 6, 7, and SE through iOS updates to address aging lithium-ion batteries. The change was meant to reduce random shutdowns by throttling the phone’s CPU, but that also leads to slower performance. As an apologetic gesture, the tech giant is offering $29 battery replacements, instead of the usual $79 replacement fee.
The French probe, which reportedly began last Friday, comes after a consumer group, Halte à l’Obsolescence Programmée (HOP), filed a lawsuit against Apple on December 27th. Even though Apple apologized, planned obsolescence is still illegal under French law, and if the company is found in violation, the maximum penalty will be two years in prison for responsible parties, a fine of 300,000 euros, and 5 percent of the company’s annual turnover. HOP has also sued Epson and other printer manufacturers for planned obsolescence leading to a probe into Epson.
We’ve reached out to Apple for comment and will update this article when we hear back.