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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martindale
martindale

I had to laugh, Samsung hauled over the coals for actually providing an update!

The story was based on the Note 4. But how did the Italian authorities fail to notice the more egregious instance of built in obsolescence, the dreaded “eMMC read fail” problem baked right into the build specifications, calibrated to take down your Note 4 shortly after the 24 month warranty expires?

I got mine repaired by Samsung free of charge outside warranty (thanks Sammy), but that took persistence. Many others will have thrown in the towel and bought another phone.

sam00200
sam00200

I’m a Not8 owner, I’m not sure but it sometimes felt sluggish. And several times it charged slowly that I had to restart it in order to make it charge as it normally does.

I’m a Samsung fan(loyal) but I won’t stand betrayal. the reasons why I chose Samsung over others is that
.has leading and access to best technologies
.It’s a giant that can provide the technology first & high quality
.Won’t make you slave/prisoner
. No software-slowing as I’m concerned

But if the software-slowing is true, it will sluggish and slowing our trust & confidence to Samsung too.

Saranan Majilya
Saranan Majilya

More or less all OEM has this trend to slowdown, camera quality & battery life deterioration and restriction of side loading of newer stock apps for insisting to buy new phones.

fcaroll
fcaroll

This mustn’t justify anyone

fcaroll
fcaroll

For example, a 160k antutu-points-worth device like the S7 stutters when opening the quick settings or the playstore. I didn’t think samsung was intentionally slowing down older devices, honestly i thought they were just bad at software (as they are). I’m really curious about what they’ll do to fix the problem, also given how difficult it will be because android is not iOS

dwin89
dwin89

Happen to me with my Note1 and Note3. But with my S7 Edge after updating, I don’t have any problem.

SAMgalaxyXXX
SAMgalaxyXXX

Not really having any issues with slow down on my Note 8 after over a year. I’ve never been 100% happy with Note 8 but not because it’s been sluggish. It feels exactly as day one.

siaho
siaho

Actually I know about a lot controversy about samsung phones in the past and how in time they slow down (not only about the classic slowing down, but also updates and mainly major ones that are supposed to make the phone “better”). Same with some functionality removed in newer OS updates. The most recent one was when nougat hit the S7/S7e – so many people got half the battery life, it was well documented. I had that phone and luckily was not one of them, but so many people were affected and never got a fix till oreo released. Something… Read more »

Abhijeet
Abhijeet

Yeah, HTC had achieved optimization long before anyone else with the One M8, too bad that phone didn’t do enough for them. Samsung’s optimization is still far from ideal, and it isn’t getting any better. Only the Notes are truly good. My Note 9 works great at all times but the S9+ had some stutter now and then.

siaho
siaho

Right now I am on the note 9 exynos coming from s7e exynos and tbh – the phone is more than great! The whole package is just so much value – a lot better than XS/XS max imho, the only thing I like on those phones is the A12 SOC, but it’s even not utilised to get use of it outside gaming/VR – not even multitasking lol. I was little concerned after all the exynos 9810 debate, but even if the sd845 is superior (especially in gaming), I still think the phone is a beast + I got it for… Read more »

locarno
locarno

The can’t slow down S7 Edge without Noughat. It was sole flagship after Note 7 demise.

Allyn K C
Allyn K C

So, is Italy saying no more software updates, only security patches?