Apple Faces French Criminal Probe Over iPhone Throttling

After accusations by consumer groups that Apple deliberately slows down older iPhones to boost sales of newer models, the company now faces a criminal probe in France, reports Bloomberg. Paris prosecutors confirmed the investigation over iPhone throttling today.

iPhone Throttling

As we previously covered, the contention is over the slowing down of older iPhone batteries. Batteries age over time, and at a certain point when they can only hold a minimum charge of 70%-80%, that is the battery’s end of life.

At this point, because of the strain iPhones put on the battery cells, under certain conditions your iPhone could randomly shut down. To prevent these shut downs, Apple introduced algorithms into an iOS update that slightly slows down CPU usage so it isn’t as hard on the battery.

Image of iPhone battery, which is at the heart of the iPhone throttling issue.

So far, it sounds reasonable. But Apple didn’t tell customers that it started slowing down certain iPhones. For years, there has been a conspiracy theory among certain iPhone users called “planned obsolescence.” It states that greedy Apple slows down older iPhones on purpose when a new iPhone comes out, in order to encourage people to buy the latest model.

This is utterly ridiculous, and has been debunked. Nevertheless, the belief won’t die. As the saying goes, the plural of ‘anecdote’ is not data. And now the company has multiple lawsuits.

Criminal Probe

A French consumer group—Halte à l’Obsolescence Programmée (HOP)—filed a lawsuit against Apple on December 27. Apple issued a formal apology, but under French law planned obsolescence is illegal.

If Apple is found guilty, the maximum penalty is two years in prison for responsible parties, a fine of €300,000 (US$359,109.41), and five percent of the company’s annual turnover. Apple has yet to comment.

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