Korean Communications Commission Puts Apple On Notice For Throttling Older iPhones

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Apple has come under fire here in the United States after the company confirmed a practice that had long been suspected by iPhone owners. Starting with the iOS 10.1.2, Apple began throttling the CPU on certain older iPhones whose batteries had been degraded beyond an optimal level. This practice was meant to prevent iPhones from shutting down unexpectedly, but had the side effect of reducing performance for customers.

While the practice is understandable, Apple's decision to keep customers in the dark about the practice is what has most upset customers. As a result, the company is facing multiple class-action lawsuits in the U.S. Now, however, we're learning that Apple's troubles are extending to other countries as well. The Korea Communications Commission (KCC) is demanding that Apple provide some clarity on its throttling practices and how it affected customers. The KCC also wants to determine if Apple actually defrauded customers by not disclosing its software triggers to enable throttling.

“We are hoping to get some answers on whether Apple intentionally restricted the performance of old iPhones and tried to hide this from customers,” said the KCC in a statement.

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Unfortunately for the KCC, it has no jurisdiction over Apple and has no real teeth when it comes to an official probe into the U.S. company's practices. So, its statement is more or less posturing at this point, as Apple doesn't actually owe it a response.

Apple first began feeling the heat when a reddit thread blew up after a user determined that his “slow” iPhone 6s magically had its performance restored to a factory-fresh state when he replaced the battery. Further analysis from Primate Labs founder John Poole confirmed that Apple implemented algorithms in iOS 10.2.1 to throttle the iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone SE. Poole also determined that iOS 11.2 introduced throttling for the iPhone 7.

Apple confirmed Poole's analysis, providing the following statement:

Our goal is to deliver the best experience for customers, which includes overall performance and prolonging the life of their devices. Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, have a low battery charge or as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components.

Last year we released a feature for iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone SE to smooth out the instantaneous peaks only when needed to prevent the device from unexpectedly shutting down during these conditions. We’ve now extended that feature to iPhone 7 with iOS 11.2, and plan to add support for other products in the future.

Apple has provided no further guidance since the first class-action lawsuits were filed last week.