French regulators have issued a €25 million fine against Apple, for slowing the performance of older iPhone without notifying users—the result of a probe that began in 2018, according to Tech Crunch.
Apple will also be required to display a notice on its website for a month, informing users that regulators had found it had carried out a deceptive business practice, and that it had paid a fine to settle the issue.
In late 2017, users noticed that the most recent version of iOS was performing more slowly on older devices, including the iPhone 6, iPhone 7, and iPhone SE models. Apple later confirmed that it capped peak performance on devices with older batteries, in order to prevent phones from shutting down unexpectedly when they encounter peak power draws.
However, users were never informed about the change, and didn’t realize they could improve performance with a battery replacement instead of buying a new iPhone. There was no option provided to disable the feature or roll back updates.
Critics accused Apple of a disingenuous attempt to compel users to replace their slow iPhones with a new device. France’s competition and fraud regulator, the Directorate General for Competition, Consumption and the Suppression of Fraud (DGCCRF), said Apple is guilty of a “misleading commercial practice by omission.” The regulator says the company had agreed to pay the €25 million fine.
This latest development is just the most recent in a series of repercussions for the company. Apple ultimately apologized, and added a “Battery Health” feature for users to monitor battery capacity and performance.
A battery replacement program reduced the price of new batteries for a year, and saw 11 million people pay just $29 (€26) for a new battery. Apple has paid a €5 million fine to Italian authorities, faced a number of lawsuits, and a Department of Justice investigation in the US.
However, the fines have been tiny relative to Apple’s overall profits, and critics point out that the new fine from France is equivalent to the company’s income in a period of less than three hours, according to Business Insider.
More recently, Apple said it has redeveloped power management on the new iPhone 11 to extend battery life. The company has said it welcomed the settlement, and that it’s committed to making smartphones that last as long as possible.