Skip to main content

Apple and Samsung fined in Italy for slowing down their phones

Apple and Samsung fined in Italy for slowing down their phones

Share this story

James Bareham / The Verge

Back in January, Italy’s antitrust organization launched two separate investigations against Apple and Samsung to determine if the companies were intentionally using software updates to slow down customers’ devices. Now, the Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (AGCM) has issued a statement saying both companies violated several consumer codes, and it has issued fines.

The AGCM is levying a €5 million fine ($5.7 million) against Apple for problems that occurred on various models of the iPhone 6 when users installed iOS 10, which was developed for the iPhone 7. Because the new iOS required greater energy demands, those using it on older iPhones experienced unexpected shutdowns. The company’s fix, which came as an update in 10.2.1, was released without warning customers that it would throttle CPUs on older devices with aging batteries in order to prevent the occurrences of these random shutdowns.

Apple is also being hit with a second €5 million fine for not giving customers information about their devices’ batteries, such as average lifespan and the procedures for how to maintain and replace them.

Samsung is also receiving a €5 million fine ($5.7 million) from the AGCM. The organization’s summary says that when Samsung put out the Android Marshmallow 6.0.1 update — meant for the newer Galaxy Note 7 — those who installed it on the Note 4 found the firmware was too demanding for the phone, leading it to malfunction in certain cases. This made people have to pay high out-of-pocket repair costs to fix the phone, as the Note 4 was two years old by then and out of warranty.

While the Samsung Note 4 / Marshmallow OS problem wasn’t as publicized as Apple’s slowdown drama, there are plenty of forums where people gripe about the issues they encountered, from rapid battery drain to data connection dropouts with titles like “Note 4 destroyed by 6.0.1 update.” In a more detailed document from the AGCM, the organization says Samsung didn’t tell people any of this could happen, and while it’s unclear if Samsung knew or should have known, the Italian government believes it is a problem that the company did not inform its customers.

The report says both companies’ decisions to have customers install newer firmware on older phones “caused serious dysfunctions and reduced performance significantly, thereby accelerating the process of replacing them.” Last year, Apple published a letter to customers apologizing for the “misunderstanding” regarding older iPhones being slowed down.