Apple Hit With French Criminal Probe for Slowing Down Vintage iPhones

French watchdog launches probe into Apple over 'alleged deception and planned obsolescence'

French prosecutors have opened an investigation into Apple over claims it slowed older phones to encourage consumers to purchase newer models.

Consumer group Halte a l'Obsolescence Programmee (Stop planned obsolescence, or HOP) lodged a complaint against Apple on December 27.

In December, Apple confirmed that it is slowing down the performance of its old smartphone models because the lithium-ion batteries they are equipped with lose power over time and their capacity may be insufficient, for example, if the device used in cold weather.

The French investigation had been handed over to the country's competition and consumer protection authority, the DGCCRF.

In numerous lawsuits from the United States, Israel and South Korea, Apple has been accused of "planned obsolescence" - a widely shared conspiracy theory among iPhone users that the iPhone maker shortens the phone's life to pressure customers to upgrade.

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Under French law, companies risk fines of up to 5 percent of their annual sales for deliberately shortening the life of their products to spur demand to replace them. "Our goal has always been to create products that our customers love, and making iPhones last as long as possible is an important part of that".

In other news, Apple on Monday released an updated version of its operating system software to fix a major microchip security flaw that affected almost all computer chips made in the last decade.

It has admitted slowing its flagship iPhones phones down, but says this was meant to extend their battery life.

In addition, Apple is facing at least 10 lawsuits over accusations of defrauding iPhone users by slowing down devices without warning to compensate for poor battery performance. "While these changes may go unnoticed, in some cases users may experience longer launch times for apps and other reductions in performance".

Reuters reported the preliminary investigation could take a number of months and will either be dropped or passed on to a judge for further investigation, depending on the findings.