Samsung fined for allegedly slowing down the Note 4 in an update
Our community cares deeply about receiving the latest Android software updates. After all, the XDA forums is the go-to place for users seeking after-market software to keep their old devices up-to-date on the latest Android dessert release. When an OEM updates their devices to bring a newer Android version, we would assume that the new version is faster, more optimized, and just-as-reliable as the older release. But, we’ve learned that isn’t always the case. Less than a year ago Apple admitted that they slowed down older iPhones to apparently extend battery life. Now, Samsung has been fined for allegedly slowing down one of their older devices in an update.
When Apple was caught throttling devices, the community was upset mostly because Apple didn’t disclose it. Following this discovery, a few regulators announced they would investigate Apple for their practices. Naturally, the public outcry brought scrutiny on Apple’s competitors, as well. An Italian investigation was started in January this year, and the decision has been reached to fine Apple and Samsung €10m and €5m, respectively. The authority found that updates on some devices from these manufacturers made the devices slower, which the courts argued was done to push consumers to buy newer products. Again, neither companies disclosed users this was happening nor did they provide any way restore the original functionality.
“Apple and Samsung implemented dishonest commercial practices, [operating system updates] caused serious malfunctions and significantly reduced performance, thus accelerating phones’ substitution.”
Apple was fined for specifically slowing down the iPhone 6 without users’ consent. According to the statement, Apple pushed users to update to an iOS version which was “made for iPhone 7.” Samsung was fine after an investigation showed that the company released an update for the Galaxy Note 4 that was designed for the Galaxy Note 7, making the device sluggish. According to the statement, the Android 6.0 Marshmallow update caused multiple malfunctions on the Galaxy Note 4, and Samsung increased the cost of fixing those issues.
The authority demanded that both the companies display a notice on their Italian websites informing the users about the decision. Interestingly, both companies were fined €5m but Apple was slapped with an additional €5m fine for not letting users know about the nature of lithium batteries—how long they last and in what time frame they degrade. The authority also argued that Apple should have issued instructions about replacing the battery in the iPhone.
Investigations are also underway in France. Unfortunately for Apple, French law allows for fines as high as 5% of annual turnover or even jail time. Apple has already added an option to disable CPU throttling on the affected iPhone, though. This feature may protect them in that case, but we still have to wait and see what the French authorities will conclude.
It’s hardly controversial for us to say we’re against planned obsolescence. While Apple has already been exposed for this practice, we’re surprised to see that Samsung has been fined for it as well. Samsung, as well as Apple, both continue to deny any intentional wrongdoing. We hope to see the technical details of the case to determine how the authorities concluded that Samsung slowed down the Note 4 intentionally.