Samsung, Apple Fined $5.7 Million By Italian Regulator For Throttling Phones Via Software

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It looks as though both Samsung and Apple are facing the music in Italy over their use of software updates to purposely slow down devices. Italy's antitrust watchdog fined Samsung and Apple each $5 million euros, which works out to around $5.7 million.

The regulatory agency said that Samsung and Apple had harmed customers with the secret software controls, and concluded that both "had caused serious dysfunctions and reduced performance significantly, thereby accelerating the process of replacing them." In addition, it was determined that this was a somewhat underhanded ploy to slow down older phones to the point that customers would simply give up and purchase a new device.

Apple of course garnered the bulk of the attention late last year when it was discovered that the company was purposely throttling performance on older iPhones whose battery states had reduced past a certain threshold. Once this threshold was met, performance was reduced in order to allow the phones to continue to operate without prematurely shutting down.

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After Apple's scheme was uncovered, the company apologized and implemented new policies within iOS 11 to give customers control over performance throttling. The company also reduced the price of battery replacements to $29, although that offer is only good through the end of 2018. However, the company has stated unequivocally that it did not enable throttling to force users to upgrade their devices. 

For its part, Samsung sat back and relished the bad press that Apple was receiving, and adamantly denied that it implemented similar secret performance throttling controls in its Galaxy smartphones. In fact, Samsung issued the following statement in late December:

Product quality has been and will always be Samsung Mobile's top priority. We ensure extended battery life of Samsung mobile devices through multi-layer safety measures, which include software algorithms that govern the battery charging current and charging duration. We do not reduce CPU performance through software updates over the lifecycles of the phone.

Since Samsung previously didn't not come under the microscope for throttling practices that were enacted through software updates, the full extent of its alleged behavior is not known at this time. The Italian antitrust watchdog didn't elaborate on its findings and Samsung has not yet issued a response to the ruling.