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Apple Investigated By France For 'Planned Obsolescence' (bbc.com) 313

AmiMoJo shares a report from the BBC: French prosecutors have launched a probe over allegations of "planned obsolescence" in Apple's iPhone. Under French law it is a crime to intentionally shorten the lifespan of a product with the aim of making customers replace it. In December, Apple admitted that older iPhone models were deliberately slowed down through software updates. It follows a legal complaint filed in December by pro-consumer group Stop Planned Obsolescence (Hop). Hop said France was the third country to investigate Apple after Israel and the U.S., but the only one in which the alleged offense was a crime. Penalties could include up to 5% of annual turnover or even a jail term.
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Apple Investigated By France For 'Planned Obsolescence'

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  • samsung (Score:5, Interesting)

    by geekymachoman ( 1261484 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2018 @03:31AM (#55891617)
    Related to this.. but not 100 % ontopic..
    Every time I updated my samsung s3 (i still use it) it got slower and slower.. until i just gave up.

    Everybody I talked to said the same thing, about other manufacturers too.

    I gave up updating my phone. I don't have anything I cannot live without on it (it's a phone people).. I don't install apps on it except maybe 2-3 apps such as Chrome, Guitar Tuner and LINE Messanger.
    • Also 100% not ontopic but related to op.

      You said you "don't install apps on it except maybe 2-3 apps such as Chrome, Guitar Tuner and LINE Messanger". If so, you could just backup your app data, factory reset and reinstall those apps. It doesn't tell us why your s3 got slower but it can make your phone faster.

    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      But no fixes like for security and bugs. I wished they did those old support. Frak the new features.

    • There's a difference between getting slower due to bogged down bloated software, and getting slower due to limiting CPU speed. While I agree with the sentiment the updates have over time added features too which basically makes it a trade-off.

      Phones are only now getting to the Windows 7 era of computing, a point where they are baseline enough that there's little to add in the core OS to bloat it down. I expect the trend of getting slower not to continue (by accident, I'm sure there are nefarious reasons for

    • by c ( 8461 )

      Every time I updated my samsung s3 (i still use it) it got slower and slower.. until i just gave up.

      Lose the bloat.

      Every Android device I've owned back to an HTC One S has run faster with better battery life once I gave up on vendor updates and switched to CM/LineageOS.

    • My Moto G didn't get first-party software update for long enough to notice this, but when I switched to LineageOS it got faster. New versions of Android have a faster JIT and AOT compiler for Java than the one that my phone originally shipped with. Much of this performance is eaten by more complex apps, but the apps that haven't suffered from creeping featureitus are noticeably faster.
  • Apple implemented a technical solution that kept phones usable for LONGER than other phone makers. By not shutting down randomly as the battery aged, by trying to maintain a day of battery life in the phone for a longer period of time, Apple was delaying the time when a user might have to repair or replace a phone.

    • by gravewax ( 4772409 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2018 @04:11AM (#55891705)
      I could believe that IF they were popping up a message on users screen explaining the slowdown and that users could just buy a new battery so that they don't think it is time to buy a new phone.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Dog-Cow ( 21281 )

        The alternative behavior is random shutdowns or restarts, and a battery that lasts a very short time. If Apple had done nothing, don't you think people would assume their phone was broken and needed replacement?

        Bottom line is that Apple allowed the devices to function for longer, without the user having to do anything. It might have been nice to explain, but should it be criminal not to?

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          No, the alternative behaviour is that they recall and give your a fixed phone. That's what Google did.

          • No, the alternative behaviour is that they recall and give your a fixed phone. That's what Google did.

            How is this a plausible solution to batery life? Should all tech companies be required to constantly repair their devices for problems that arent actually faults (And its not a fault, because the battery is functioning as designed). Techniology would become ridiculously expensive. No battery on earth lasts forever, and as a result pretty much all countries with legislatively guaranteed life (of machine) war

            • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

              Yes, if they designed in an unsuitable battery then they should redesign the phone to correct the problem and then offer free repairs/replacements.

              If the phone was 0.02mm thicker they could use a battery with a bigger cathode, and avoid this issue entirely. Alternatively they could talk to battery manufactures and find a clever way to increase the cathode size without altering the phone. It might be possible with newer chemistry or something.

              Again, the only other manufacturer that had this issue was Google

        • No the alternative behaviour is to tell the user what is happening and let them choose whether they want to slowdown the device, run the risk of crashes or get a new battery. By not telling them they have mislead the user into thinking their phone needs replacing.
    • Where have you seen a phone, laptop or anything with an adequate lithium battery that shuts down randomly due to it being "old"? That thing pushes multiple of it's capacity in current. "Let's heroically overcome the problem we created on purpose!"
      • Everything I've ever owned with lithium batteries has this problem. Eg: My first netbook got cooked in the sun with the power off ... it would vanish from 50% after that.

        I don't own a single Apple product, but maybe I should start buying ...

    • They implemented a technical solution that saved them money. As I have explained before, it's a design flaw caused by specifying an inadequate battery and then not doing a full life cycle test on it.

      This issue is well understood. The datasheet for the battery will give you the current delivery capability over its lifetime, specifying the worst case. You can also buy rather expensive battery simulators to test your hardware with an aged battery.

      Other manufacturers did that. Apple either did it or got lucky on older phones. With the 6 they screwed up. In Europe design flaws have to be resolved in the customer's favour, and if found to be deliberate they can be a crime.

      • specifying an inadequate battery

        Source? I haven't heard that Apple's batteries were somehow inferior to those used by the rest of the industry. Do the batteries used by other manufacturers last longer than 1-2 years, or do their phones reboot at random once they start under-volting the CPU?

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          LiPo batteries come in various shapes and sizes. One of the main differences is the size of the cathode. The larger it is the more current that the battery can supply. Apple selected a battery design with a smaller cathode than required, presumably to save space and make their phones a fraction of a millimetre thinner.

    • And there is no reason to at least TELL the people? Instead just degrade their phone's performance, but of course not to convince them they have to buy a new one.

      C'mon. If you believe that, I have a nice bridge for sale with a clear view of the San Francisco skyline.

    • by Juju ( 1688 )

      I'd agree if Apple didn't try to make it impossible for users to change their battery!
      Making the thing hard to open, gluing everything inside, charging $90 for swapping and putting too small batteries in their phone is ground to sue alone.
      Apple is going out of their way to try to get people to buy a new phone instead of fixing the one they already own, and they are known for it, so this is just the straw that broke the camel's back.

      Since people are too stupid to vote with their wallet, someone has got to do

    • Apple implemented a technical solution that kept phones usable for LONGER than other phone makers. By not shutting down randomly as the battery aged, by trying to maintain a day of battery life in the phone for a longer period of time, Apple was delaying the time when a user might have to repair or replace a phone.

      No, what Apple did was force a "feature" down on consumers without telling them, or giving them the option themselves to enable or disable it. THAT is the real issue here. Had they simply done that, and explained the reasoning being the "feature" as you have, it would have probably played out a LOT differently for Apple. Now, they appear sneaky and nefarious for doing this, even if they were ultimately trying to help.

      Being honest and upfront still matters to consumers. Go figure.

    • The fact they hid it, and never left it in user hand is suspicious, especially since they DO have a mechanism that at 20% you battery you can switch to a low power mode. They could have it pop up like "your telephone is discharging rapidly we will put you in lower power mode". But no, they hid it. to me that is an evidence they were well aware of potential backlash.
    • Funny how no other phone makers have problems with their phones shutting down. Apple gimped their device to cover up their fucked up power system design. Nothing more nothing less.

  • I've worked in this industry for over a decade (never for Apple) What people don't realize is that batteries age, and so do chips especially when pushed to a limit. Ever wonder why military or even automotive grade chips are running so much slower and cooler? It's because they are rated for much longer lifetime than consumer grade devices - they are limited so they last the required number of years. Consumers want top performance, but they trade lifetime due to stress on the hardware. What Apple did here is

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      If you had worked in the industry you would know that you design your hardware to only work over the lifetime of the battery. Every battery datasheet has graphs and tables giving you the performance over its lifetime.

      Keep in mind this started well within the warranty period. Apple did it to avoid millions of warranty battery replacements.

      • First, battery and chip wear are independent. You can possibly replace the battery, but less likely to replace the main SoC. If the slowdowns began during the warranty period, that means that either Apple pushed the chip and/or the battery harder to get good benchmarks on new devices, or their modeling of typical usage is too conservative, with people hitting the throttle threshold earlier than expected. Usually throttling will kick in based on battery age, temperature, open circuit voltage, source resistan

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          In the EU the minimum warranty period is 2 years, although some countries go even further.

          Obviously batteries are consumable items, but the way the law usually looks at this is that if the battery is cheap it's okay for the consumer to replace it regularly. If it's really expensive like iPhone batteries are, requiring a special service appointment and considerable cost to get replaced, it needs to last a reasonably long time, like considerably more than the warranty period which is the absolute minimum.

          So e

      • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 )

        If you were a just and honest person, you'd know that suicide is the only proper course for you.

    • I've worked in this industry for over a decade (never for Apple) What people don't realize is that batteries age, and so do chips especially when pushed to a limit. Ever wonder why military or even automotive grade chips are running so much slower and cooler? It's because they are rated for much longer lifetime than consumer grade devices - they are limited so they last the required number of years. Consumers want top performance, but they trade lifetime due to stress on the hardware. What Apple did here is cap the device performance increasing the device reliability and potential lifespan.

      Unless you're one to beat the living shit out of your device physically, the main component going "bad" is the battery, which used to be a component that was replaceable and even upgradable by the end user.

      Phones come with a 1-year warranty usually tied to a 2-year contract (where they often finance the cost of the phone with it). Due to the cellular contract length, consumer expectations are two years, plain and simple. Vendors need to stop being so damn greedy and offer a two-year warranty. If they can

    • Ever wonder why military or even automotive grade chips are running so much slower and cooler? It's because they are rated for much longer lifetime than consumer grade devices - they are limited so they last the required number of years.

      No you haven't worked in the industry for a decade. With a line like that I will wager that you haven't worked in the industry for even a day. There are very big differences between the automotive / military grade chips and they go miles beyond life expectancy (something that is usually handled through derrating).

      In any case it's quite telling that Apple seem to feel a need to derate their 2 year old phones. (Posted from a non-derated 4 year old phone that has suffered dearly at my hands).

      • So your argument here is that I used the word "limited" instead of "derated"?

        If you don't believe that all high end chips get slowed down, go build your favorite high end PC hardware (gamer PC built for performance). Image the hard drive, run your favorite CPU and GPU benchmarks. After a couple of years of gaming use, restore the imaged drive and re-run the benchmarks - I bet you would expect your benchmarks to be the same, but they won't be - even though the software will be identical, the hardware will ha

    • Ever wonder why military or even automotive grade chips are running so much slower and cooler?

      They use slower parts because they are cheaper. They use no more hardware than is necessary to do a job, because when Bosch makes a run of a couple million ECUs that will go into various different VWs, Audis, and Lamborghinis, they want to avoid unnecessarily spending tens of thousands of dollars. If a hotter part were necessary to do the job, they would add a fat heat sink to it and fin the case, and in fact automotive manufacturers have done this in the past.

      • That is actually incorrect - military grade chips are not from the discount bin. Are the they the fastest bin of parks coming off the line, of course not, but that's not because of cost, but purely because that is not what the spec calls for (and in some processes slower parts are more power efficient, hence less heat). A heat-sink is not going to solve a problem of wear either - it would help, but not. That said, I cannot say any more on the topic, so if you still think so, we'll just have to agree to dis

    • They run cooler because they support a wider operating temperature range.

      • I think you flipped the cause and effect. If they run cooler, they may operate at a more narrow temperature range simply because they don't heat up as much. That said, often military or automotive spec parts actually support a wider range of temperatures. Go to ti.com or other chip manufacturers and lookup temperatures for higher grade/more expensive chips, sometimes called "enhanced".

  • ...or even a jail term.

    LOCK 'EM UP! Throw away the keys!

  • Feature, not bug (Score:5, Informative)

    by nagora ( 177841 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2018 @05:07AM (#55891825)
    All Apple had to do was advertise this from the start as a feature and let you turn it off if you wanted to; competitors would have been rushing to copy it! They've been strung up by their own controlfreakery and secrecy. Idiots.
    • All Apple had to do was advertise this from the start as a feature and let you turn it off if you wanted to;

      If they let you turn it off, you'll either set your phone on fire or it will be shutting itself off periodically when you use too much CPU. Either one of these things makes Apple look bad, so no, your solution is not a solution. Thanks for imagining that you're smarter than Apple engineers, though!

      • There is no excuse for not informing the user that the phone is being throttled. None.

      • by nagora ( 177841 )

        "Thanks for imagining that you're smarter than Apple engineers, though!"

        Have you not been warned about using daddy's /. account?

  • Many companies do this too. :( Maybe companies can make users pay to keep support of old stuff going.

  • by ytene ( 4376651 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2018 @06:26AM (#55892047)
    If you look at the trends in consumer electronics over the last few years, designed-in obsolescence has become a feature from a range of different classes of device and a broad range of vendors.

    For example, consider laptop/netbook computers, which arrive with major components such as CPUs, batteries, RAM and storage all soldered and/or glued in place. All of this makes it much harder to upgrade or use these products in a versatile way.

    The same is true for almost all class of tablet, although I'd note that some Android devices [phones and tablets] do come with micro-SD card slots, which do allow for storage upgrades and flexibility.

    On the desktop we are moving away from the "assembled" style of computer offered by Dell or Gateway from the 90s and 00s and now we seem to be trending towards all-in-one systems where, once again, everything is soldered or glued down and the potential for upgrades of individual components is virtually non-existent.

    Or in the software business, where the latest editions of software are no explicitly programmed so that they cannot be operated on older generations of processors [which, ironically, may not have some of the vulnerabilities found with more modern chips] but with the net effect of forcing people to upgrade what might have been perfectly reasonable hardware just if they want to run modern software. Nor is this limited to Operating Systems - the same deadly embrace includes things like graphics cards and driver stacks and the compatibility demanded by "modern" games... all of which force upgrades to new GPUs, which in turn force upgrades to new OS editions... which force upgrades in hardware.

    The hard part about this - for consumers at least - is that this sort of change is a "self-fulfilling prophecy" from the perspective of a tech company. This is because the companies that follow the trend will make more sales, be more profitable and thus displace those companies who had been willing to put the customer first. In other words, we have a situation in which market forces [profits for manufacturers] actually induce and encourage them to adopt practices which will be harmful to consumers in the long run.

    Our society anticipated that situations like this might come to be from time to time, setting up regulatory institutions of government to ensure that consumer rights were protected and that facilities such as "right to repair" and "right to upgrade" were included. Unfortunately we are slowly but surely seeing these protections eroded, either by cuts to those agencies and/or [witness the recent actions of the FCC dumping telecoms disputes on the FTC] woefully overloaded.

    We are told that in a capitalist environment, market forces win out and thus the consumer is protected because the market demands that only the best companies survive to offer the best products or services to people. Unfortunately, as we've seen with consumer electronics, the consumer now has virtually no worthwhile protection from any of these questionable practices.

    We should applaud what France are trying to do here, and we should hope that this drives positive change.

    The Consumer Electronics Industry has been sorely in need of a "Weinstein Moment" for a while now. Forced Upgrades, inability to repair and built-in-obsolescence have been spreading like cancer throughout the modern technology world, making a few companies super-rich at the expense of millions or billions of consumers' pockets.

    That needs to change.
    • Products being glued or soldered up won't change as a result of this. This is only about products that perform less of their original function over time (as the iphones did). It's about products that stop working at some arbitrary time in the future, arguably like HP printers that suddenly won't accept non-HP ink.

      Your ability to upgrade and/or replace components has nothing to do with 'planned obsolescence'. If you buy the fastest computer on earth today, but in a years time a new faster computer comes out

  • I currently run the DirtyCow TWRP LineageOS 13.x Rom, and I am concerned about future BLU Devices such as the BLU Life One X3. I don't want to go back to the BLU Stock Rom under any circumstances. I don't even run GApps. I can't run the LineageOS 14.x Rom because of the Requirement the camera work and I have a Bluetooth headset.

    I got lucky and picked up refurbished R1 HD. to Replace my Studio 5.x. It had not been updated and used the older Rom that could be unlocked to load LineageOS... More than 6 months h

    • This needs to be investigated. BLU needs to put up a thing that says: Running a Custom Rom? Need Camera Drivers? Install this APK. And stop locking bootloaders on devices we buy outright! If I can do fastboot oem unlock, it should work.

      Since they aren't doing that, why are you talking so much about which BLU phone you should buy? Did you receive consideration for your promotion?

  • The amount of uninformed nonsense on here is astounding.

    The update doesn't "slow down" the phone as such - it limits peak power draws when the battery is down on overall capacity and the spike would cause a reset (which happens in many other manufacturers' phones - FFS google this, people). Most operations of the phone will remain utterly unchanged, just heavy workloads will be slower than previously.

    Say what you like about non-replaceable batteries (hardly specific to Apple) or a badly communicated

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