back to article Whoa, France. Take it easy. Wow. You're out of control. Fining Apple 55 minutes of revenue for secretly slowing down iPhones? Maniaques!

On Friday, the French government fined Apple €25m for slowing down certain iPhone models to preserve battery life, a practice the Cupertino idiot-tax operation acknowledged back in 2017 following complaints about undocumented processor throttling. That's the equivalent of $27.4m or about 55 minutes of full-year revenue, based …

  1. Kimo

    On the other hand

    Sudden shutdowns would also cause people to buy new kit. Informing them and creating an option screen would have been a good move, but Apple could get hit on either side for this.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: On the other hand

      What about not being able to shutdown or reboot?

    2. robidy Bronze badge

      Re: On the other hand

      Quick bit of blue sky thinking...what about making batteries user replaceable?

      Could avoid the slow down, extend device life, reduce electrical waste, provide better design to absorb impacts and reduce the number of toughened glass screens cracking.

      1. Robert Grant Silver badge

        Re: On the other hand

        Given the iPhone killed user-removable batteries in phones, I can't wait for the day when Apple fans are praising this new innovation.

        1. Truckle The Uncivil

          Re: On the other hand

          We won't. We do not think it is a good idea. It isn't iPhone users who are complaining it is Android users. Basically they do not it want iPhone users to have a better phone. That is the ONLY way it can affect them.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: On the other hand

            "That is the ONLY way it can affect them."

            Yes, because users of a particular item exist in a vacuum, and their actions (e.g. generating excess WEE and the environmental consequences thereof) don't affect others. *rolls eyes*

      2. ITS Retired
        Facepalm

        Re: On the other hand

        What? Nobody wants replaceable batteries, except the people using the phones. Besides replaceable batteries would make the phone a bit thicker and easier to hold. Comfort? I'm sure iApple might have heard of that.

      3. Truckle The Uncivil

        Re: On the other hand

        And less waterproof. There are aways pros and cons. Why I object to is people who do NOT use iPhones wailing and gnashing their teeth in an effort to get the quality of an iPhone degraded to the point of losing sales.

        I chose Apple. Why do android dolts who do not use iPhones try to Apple off the market or to do things their way. Who are the the authoritarians?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: On the other hand

          "And less waterproof."

          I'm calling BS. I have an ancient Nokia phone with a removable battery. It's been used in the rain. It's got sodden when my clothes got soaked in an alpine downpour. It's fine, and has never showed any signs of water ingress. It's also older than most people's cars (and is only on battery number two) ...

        2. Timmy B Silver badge

          Re: On the other hand

          "And less waterproof"

          I also call BS. I have an aged Samsung rugged phone that is waterproof and has survived loads, from a drop down a cliff to falling in a oil filled quench tank. It has a removable battery. And the best feature of any rugged phone... a karabiner loop on it so I can't lose it from a pocket!

        3. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

          Re: On the other hand

          @Truckle The Uncivil: "And less waterproof."

          I spend a fair amount of time outdoors, walking my dogs, and my phone being waterproof isn't as important as having a user replaceable battery. It's got rubber armour, and a slide on screen protector, and simply, if it's raining, I let the call go to voice mail and respond when I've got shelter.

          Elsewhere I just avoid disasters by being careful where I leave my phone. I learned that lesson early on, after a Nokia 5110 launched itself like a torpedo into my toilet bowl from a hoodie pouch pocket.

        4. Monty Cantsin
          Facepalm

          Re: On the other hand

          "And less waterproof"

          So a GoPro that you can take surfing or scuba diving can have a removable battery, but an iPhone that's only designed to survive a dunk in the toilet can't.

      4. Timmy B Silver badge

        Re: On the other hand

        "... what about making batteries user replaceable?"

        You and your common sense have not place here - begone!

    3. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

      Re: On the other hand

      I think users should be given a choice, I have seen Getac Toughbook like devices and HP Probooks have an option to only charge to 80% to greatly increase the life of the battery.

      I can't see why Apple can't have an option for this and if the device sees shutdowns due to the battery offer the user the ability to throttle the cpu.

  2. HildyJ Silver badge
    Devil

    Fine? Fine!

    Why do I get the impression that the French government determined the amount of the fine by asking "Siri, what should we fine Apple?"

    1. Mephistro Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Fine? Fine!

      And then they was immediately transfered to a human operator!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fine? Fine!

      One Million Dollars!

  3. Barry Rueger Silver badge

    Hurrah! Brexit!

    No longer will Apple be hobbled by the boot heels of Euro-consumer-protectionism!

    Give me my slow IPhone or give me death!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hurrah! Brexit!

      Your name is Boris Johnson and I claim my fivel Liberian^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H UK Dollars.

  4. Financegozu
    Mushroom

    I never understood why ...

    ... doing a thing like prolonging the useful life of a device was spun into Armageddon-like proportions of doom

    1. Carpet Deal 'em Bronze badge

      Re: I never understood why ...

      Because it wasn't advertised or controllable, making it look to all the world like a subtle sabotage to get people to buy a new phone.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I never understood why ...

        As opposed to what other option?

        If people turned it off, their phone shuts down, boo-hoo Apple shortened my device life and "forcing" battery upgrades.

        If it was throttled, boo-hoo Apple shortened my device life. New complex OS features are taking more processing power, tres mal! Why are features using more code and CPU!?

        Ironically do the Android thing and offer no updates after a year for older phones? Bon!

        Keep old phone with security holes, c'est bon!

        Replace phone because SW is too old, but HW is still decent. Tres bon!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I never understood why ...

          "Hi, can I have £30,000 for this 5 seater car..."

          [One of the seats falls apart 3 months after purchase]

          "Hi, here is an over the air update that removes a seat, reduces your mileage and HP, and increases running costs... do you like your new car?"

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I never understood why ...

          Go to bed, Tim.

          1. TimMaher Bronze badge
            Angel

            Re: I never understood why ...

            I am in bed. It is before midday here.

        3. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: I never understood why ...

          One other option is to do what nearly every other electronic device does: run the same but the battery doesn't last as long. I have rarely had devices simply shut down because their battery is old, but they often will last for shorter. That Apple's devices manage to crash even when the battery isn't empty sounds like a design flaw, and their solution sounds more like a quick patch to avoid people hearing about it than a reasonable solution. Yes, Apple got some bad optics when people thought it was intentional and only for commercial reasons, and they don't deserve all of that. That doesn't make it a good thing to do.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            The problem that's being solved is not well understood

            It is not just the battery capacity that reduces as the battery ages - its internal resistance also increases.

            An increase in internal resistance means that the voltage supplied to the electronics reduces as the current drawn from the battery increases, eventually to the point at which it is too low to power the device at higher power level.

            Reducing the total "speed" of the device (maximum clock speed, number of active cores) can be used to reduce the total power draw, meaning that the phone can still be used with a battery that is likely well beyond the point at which it should be replaced.

            In it's current form, the "slowdown" feature only activates if the phone shuts down unexpectedly due to low voltage.

            Personally, I see this as a benefit, as it allows me to carry on using the phone without too much inconvenience until I can arrange to have the battery replaced.

            1. Roland6 Silver badge

              Re: The problem that's being solved is not well understood

              >In it's current form, the "slowdown" feature only activates if the phone shuts down unexpectedly due to low voltage.

              Personally, I see this as a benefit, as it allows me to carry on using the phone without too much inconvenience until I can arrange to have the battery replaced.

              So does the phone now tell you that the "slowdown" feature has been activated (along with periodic reminders) and advise you to have the battery replaced?

              Currently none of my family's iPhones and iPads and later have flagged battery issues.

              1. Truckle The Uncivil

                Re: The problem that's being solved is not well understood

                Yes. You have not looked.

            2. doublelayer Silver badge

              Re: The problem that's being solved is not well understood

              I have such a device. It's worth keeping in mind a couple things.

              First, there is no indication, even now, that this has happened. It simply throttles for you. Since this became such a big issue, you can now see that it happened if you go into Settings, select Battery, and from in there select Battery Health, which will contain a notice if it happened but won't provide other details of any kind. I'm sure we can all agree that we do this at least once a week anyway because the information in there is of such usefulness, so no warning or even a notification from the app is needed.

              Second, it's worth keeping in mind that sudden shutdowns, while possible with ancient batteries on many things, aren't being reported en masse for other devices. Also, this process can start rather soon after the device is put into operation; I believe mine throttled after about eighteen months of ownership though I didn't check that settings page so it could have been earlier. This suggests that the system drawing power from the battery may have been designed incorrectly to require far more peek power than the battery they chose can provide for very long. I think this is likely a design flaw, but can you see the reason others might assume, possibly correctly, that Apple did that deliberately to increase the number of people buying new devices or replacement batteries? Can you see why, even if it is a design flaw, the general consumer has a reason not to be thrilled with it?

              Third, unless you tell someone that the battery is wrong, they don't know what the problem is. Before they were mandated to put in this warning, they didn't tell anybody. Meanwhile, we're all familiar with the concept of new software requiring more resources and running more slowly. While many will complain about this, we all realize the reason for it and most of us will generally accept it with only a little grumbling. The way they built their system seems well-designed if the goal was to convince users that the device was, in fact, becoming too slow to run the system well, with the battery as a convenient excuse should they ever get caught. I'm not alleging that this is actually what happened, but there's far too much logic in the arguments of those who do to dismiss the possibility out of hand.

          2. Truckle The Uncivil

            Re: I never understood why ...

            No, it is to a design flaw. When batteries get old, the maximum rate at which you can draw power diminishes. It is a characteristic of the battery. Intrinsic in the technology. In order to stop the phone falling over Apple slows the clock speed while on maxim draw if and when the battery starts to fail. The phone is only 'slowed down' while it is drawing maximum from the battery.

            It is an elegant and satisfactory solution that is only required by people who have abused their phones with excess overcharging. You can avoid even going there by removing your phone from the charger when it hits 100%.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: I never understood why ...

              "You can avoid even going there by removing your phone from the charger when it hits 100%"

              Shouldn't a well-designed device run off "mains" when charging (and using the residual to charge it), thus preventing that problem?

            2. doublelayer Silver badge

              Re: I never understood why ...

              I'm aware that batteries age and decrease the peak power they can provide. And yet, we don't see devices without this throttling, such as other companies phones, laptops, and Apple phones before this happened, shutting down in this way, even with old batteries. That implies that those manufacturers looked at the peak power they were going to be using and selected their batteries to be likely to be capable of providing that power for quite a while. Meanwhile, Apple didn't, so their devices do shut down unexpectedly when not particularly old. In this case, Apple devices are not performing to the standard used by multiple other competitors, including some made by Apple. The shorter form of saying this is "design flaw".

              And now you're telling me that I caused this by leaving my phone connected to the mains while its battery was at full capacity? You know so much about batteries, so you'd also know that it is virtually necessary to have overcharge prevention circuits on lithium ion batteries to prevent fires. Apple has those. And yet, the circuits they have are somehow unable to realize that the power has reached full capacity and take measures designed to prolong the life of the battery? Despite knowing that many users will do what I do and charge the device while they sleep, meaning that it is very likely that the device will be at full capacity for quite a while before the cable is disconnected. I have to say, I've never heard Apple making this argument. It's a very good thing for them that I haven't, because that would probably be an even worse design flaw.

    2. foo_bar_baz

      Re: I never understood why ...

      If my battery dies and my phone shuts down mid-operation I will start thinking about replacing the battery.

      If my phone starts to slow down noticeably I will start thinking about replacing the phone.

      See the difference? Now, I would find it acceptable if my phone alerted me that my battery is old and it has started to throttle the performance to preserve its life.

      1. Truckle The Uncivil

        Re: I never understood why ...

        Now, I was an IT worker, and any IT worker worth a cracker finds the problem before thy throw money at it.

        For an IT worker, if their phone starts to slow noticeably they will try to find out why - or should do. But you wouldn't notice a slowdown on an iPhone as they only slow down while the battery is overload and speed up again as soon as the battery draw drops. In otherworld IOS only slows down when Android would not be working at all.

    3. jmch Silver badge

      Re: I never understood why ...

      It's the non-disclosure.

      Users don't like companies going behind their backs even though they might have approved of the solution if it were explained and they were immediately given the interface to decide for themselves

  5. Khaptain Silver badge

    What's did the Brits do to Apple

    Reply from Frankie Hollywood :

    Absolutely Nothing....

    At least the French did something ... Whilst the Brits laid down and continued to have their rectums invaded..

    1. macjules Silver badge

      Re: What's did the Brits do to Apple

      Shhh. the ink is not yet dry on Apple buying Battersea Power Station as their new European HQ.

  6. unix.beard

    Wish the 5S had had this

    I think Apple could have avoided this if they'd been open about this feature. I had my iPhone 5S crash when I took it out to take a photo on a frosty morning on my cycle ride to work. The 5S was so cold that its battery performance dropped and it couldn't service the processor. If it had been able to drop the CPU clock, I might have got the photo.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wish the 5S had had this

      No. If the battery is faulty, they should offer new batteries.

      Wow. Abused and stockholm syndrome relationship with Apple like or what?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "No. If the battery is faulty"

        No, that battery was not faulty. Lithium batteries do not work well at low temperatures (all of them, not just Apple). They are also consumables, and do wear out and need replacing (and Apple should make this easier).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "No. If the battery is faulty"

          I was commenting on the requirement of Apple, not on the fault of the user.

          Food also rots if you leave it in the dirt and sun. Or a bottle will crack/burst if left to freeze with water in it incorrectly. But we don't blame the manufacture for those. We do if it's bad from the factory, as in the case of Apple.

          But downvote none the less because of your bias.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "No. If the battery is faulty"

          I’ve had batteries replaced in 3 iPhones: one (a 6S) by Apple free, the other two (a 4S and 5S) by independent shops - £20 each, and done in a few minutes while I waited. I could have bought replacement batteries for the latter two, and fit them myself, for about the same cost - made sense to let someone else, who does it regularly, do it, especially since it didn’t cost me any more.

          All three phones are working fine a year or two later.

          I’m trying to resurrect an old Razr and a Motorola Android (as spares) - batteries are a bit cheaper but £20 for one fitted and tested isn’t a lot so the argument regarding user replaceable batteries doesn’t really hold up (for me, anyway).

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wish the 5S had had this

        Except it's not a faulty battery issue, it's a chemistry issue. Get a lithium ion or any other battery cold enough and it's performance drops.

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ali said

      France uses the euro, don't you know? Not pounds.

      That's the easiest bit to fix in your insane drivel, start there, and good luck!

  8. Abdul-Alhazred

    For Apple this is just part of the cost of doing business, as it might be a bit more tax to pay.

    In the USA we don't have regulations similar to these French ones, but such fines are commonplace, mostly for breaking environmental regulations.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "mostly for breaking environmental regulations."

      You still have them? I thought Trump was repealing them?

  9. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
    Coat

    Good Moaning

    "I was pissing by the door, when I heard two shats. You are holding in your hand a smoking goon; you are clearly the guilty potty."

    1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Good Moaning

      Seems we found the Apple lawyer.....

  10. tempemeaty
    Joke

    This loop so infinite....

    Actually batteries are user replaceable. It's just that it comes with a whole new phone wrapped around it....It's called a Samsung phone....

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Planned Obsolescence is good

    Planned Obsolescence is good. Yes it is good, if the resources of our planet is infinite. But those rare earth metals keeps on diminishing by the

    day and around 30 or 40 years from now most of those rare metals would be cleared here on earth unless we harvest from other nearby planets.

    I don't think Apple can still produce iPhones when there are no more metals to mine here on Earth.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Planned Obsolescence is good

      I dare you to count how much rare earth metals we have on earth.

      Then figure out which one is bigger. The amount on earth, or the amount in one asteroid/other planet (hint, the earth is the biggest non gaseous planet/rock in our solar system).

      Then count how long it would take to mine the *earth* of just the rarest rare earth metal.

      Mining the metals will not make them "run out" in the lifespan of *humanity*. Though we could get rocks from space, it will be to use up in space. On this rock, earth, we have enough.

      What we don't have enough of, is the ability to suck in the polluted air, slag and water from the mining facilities and processes. That is what would kill us, and going into space will not diminish it, just (for now) exasperate it.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Irony

    The irony, here, it very likely the french who have invented planned obsolescence in the early 90s.

    At the army, one buddy told me a senior engineer at the most successful french TV manufacturer told him they were designing the cathod tubes so they would stop working around 14-16 months, pas the 12 months of warranty and that he was not really proud of it ... Said company stopped the activity a dozen year later but they had a good financial ride since, back then, many french would buy only french and this was the only manufacturer.

    Quite possibly, this was invented a lot earlier than this. A shame Apple is getting fined for a tiny loss of performance while others have deliberately sabotaged their products for YEARS.

    1. trindflo

      Re: Irony

      I recall reading about that sort of engineering in the U.S. with the Ford Mustang auto. That was in the 1960s.

  13. jsmith84

    Apple was fined for “misleading commercial practise”.

    Apple was fined for “misleading commercial practise”.

    The fine of €25m is in line with the sentencing guideline of 10% of the average turnaround (over the last 3 years) of Apple France, which was about €200m in 2018.

    The amount has nothing to do with global turnaround (because French law stop at the French border!) and any kind of totally made up number made by a legal system making up stuff as they go (like the British legal system).

    Apple clearly accepted the fine.

    At least France is applying the law, and nothing but the law.

    I’d love see something similar in the UK (having migrated here long ago).

    Links below, in French.

    https://www.economie.gouv.fr/dgccrf/Publication/Vie-pratique/Fiches-pratiques/Pratiques-commerciales-trompeuses?fbclid=IwAR3aKIrhzq_wO9UFfZhuEp6mSzdy2J95gxgCpeiUUbKah6xPGCu_9BotEkA

    https://www.societe.com/societe/apple-france-322120916.html

  14. SinX

    Ah Ha

    Managing the user expectation of ludicrously thin phones because its pretty and the laws of physics is always going to be tricky, actually I like the technical thought that came up with this last gasp solution to imminent battery failure but the poorly thought out marketing decision to keep it hidden was about phone sales. I find it best to have a grown up discussion about obsolescence and let your customer know they are making a trade off between usability and prettiness, in Hi Reliability environments we do this all the time and some times cheap and nasty is best, but there's no excuse for deliberately failing to provide a user repair path for a consumable item like a battery!

  15. trindflo

    I've always thought this feature is similar

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\ Class\{4D36E96A-E325-11CE-BFC1-08002BE10318}

    Check out that Windows registry key online. It slows down disk access on Windows machines over time.

  16. 1752

    This is Shutterstock's idea of an angry French person

    I always look at the associated text

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