Firmware

Samsung fined $5.7 million for slowing down phones through updates

Samsung denied slowing down phones through software updates earlier this year when Apple was caught in the controversy. Apple was said to be slowing down phones on purpose to nudge customers to purchase newer iPhones. The practice is called planned obsolescence.

When those reports surfaced earlier this year, Italy’s consumer watchdog announced that it was investigating Apple and Samsung for planned obsolescence. It said back then that the companies may have infringed four separate articles of the country’s consumers’ code. They risked multi-million euro fines if found guilty. Unfortunately, guilty is the verdict for both companies.

Samsung found to be slowing down older handsets

Apple explained why it was doing this. It said that older iPhones were slowed down through updates to prevent accidental shutdowns. Devices with degraded batteries can’t handle the surge in power requirement when the chip takes on heavy load. This can lead to the device shutting down unexpectedly. Apple limited the processor speed on other devices through updates.

This was done to ensure that there wasn’t a big enough spike in the power requirement that the battery couldn’t deal with. Not only did Apple apologize, it also released an update which allowed users to opt out of this functionality.

Samsung said at that time that it does not reduce CPU performance through software updates over the life cycles of its smartphones. It denied the planned obsolescence claims yet again when the Italian watchdog launched its investigation. It also said that it would cooperate fully with the Italian Authority for Market and Competition during the investigation.

Samsung has been fined 5 million euro ($5.7 million) after the investigation concluded that the updates for smartphones “caused serious dysfunctions and reduced performance significantly, thereby accelerating the process of replacing them.” Apple has received double the fine due to both planned obsolescence and failing to tell consumers about the “essential” characteristics of the lithium batteries in its phones.

It also added that the two companies didn’t provide users with adequate information about the impact of the new updates nor did they provide them with any means of “restoring the original functionality of the products.”

Samsung yet to comment on the verdict

The Korean company is yet to comment on the matter. While it may not have been limiting CPU speeds, many users have complained about their older handsets feeling sluggish after major OS updates, including flagship ones like the Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy Note 8. They also didn’t appreciate that some basic functionality present in earlier versions of the OS was removed.

Have you ever felt that your device feels slower after you upgrade to a newer OS version? Do you think that this fine on Samsung’s is justified? Sound off in the comments below.

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