Apple and Samsung fined in Italy for making smartphones worse via updates

Italian competition watchdog AGCM fines Apple and Samsung for making smartphones worse through software updates. At Samsung it is about the Galaxy Note 4 and at Apple about the iPhone 6 models.

The Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato, or AGCM, says it conducted two complex investigations, finding Apple and Samsung engaged in unfair trade practices. Apple will be fined ten million euros for two offenses, Samsung will be fined five million euros for one violation.

According to the AGCM, some firmware updates from the manufacturers have caused serious malfunctions and significantly reduced the performance of some smartphones. This would have prompted the manufacturers to encourage consumers to purchase a new device more quickly.

The authority charges Samsung that from May 2016 it has explicitly requested owners of the Galaxy Note 4 to continue with the installation of the Android Marshmallow update. The organization states that that Android version ‘demands more’ from the hardware of the device and that defects can occur that are not resolved within the warranty. The AGCM does not say which defects these are.

At Apple, it concerns the iPhone 6, the 6 Plus and the successors 6s and 6s Plus. Those devices showed problems after the installation of iOS 10 and switched off automatically, even if the battery was not completely empty. The devices also became slower, something that Apple confirmed at the end of 2017 and for which software adjustments were made.

Apple is also fined by the Italian watchdog for not giving enough characteristics of the batteries in its smartphones. For example, Apple does not provide details about the average lifespan and wear, and there are also no procedures for maintenance, checking and replacement of the batteries.

Both Apple and Samsung must publish a page on its Italian website informing customers of the AGCM’s decision, including a link to the ruling.

At the beginning of this year, the French government announced a judicial investigation into Apple’s delaying of iPhones. The US government has also asked Apple questions about the practices.