The UK competition watchdog, the Competition and Markets Authority, has wrung an important concession from tech giant Apple.
Apple has promised to be “clearer and more upfront with iPhone users about battery health and performance,” after the CMA investigated the American tech giant.
It comes after Apple was forced to say sorry in late 2017 for deliberately slowing down older iPhones, but it denied accusations at the time that it was a clumsy attempt to force customers to upgrade to new handsets.
The problem began for Apple in 2017, when it found itself in the middle of controversy after it was discovered the firm deliberately slowed down older iPhones, which it claimed would help avoid unexpected handset shutdowns.
The issue first came to light in December 2017 after an iPhone user shared performance tests on Reddit that suggested that their iPhone 6S had slowed down considerably as it had aged.
However the handset suddenly sped up again after the battery was replaced.
Then John Poole, founder of benchmarking firm Primate Labs, gathered Geekbench data and analysed thousands of iPhones running different versions of the iOS operating system.
He discovered that some of these older iPhones did indeed appear to have been deliberately slowed down.
Apple’s practice of slowing down older iPhone 6S and iPhone 7 began when the iPad maker released iOS 10.2.1 in January 2017.
In the United Kingdom, the CMA stepped in to investigate “after finding people were not being warned clearly that their phone’s performance could slow down following a 2017 software update designed to manage demands on the battery.”
The CMA became concerned that people might have tried to repair their phone or replace it because they weren’t aware the software update had caused the handset to slow down,” the watchdog announced.
“In addition, people were not able to easily find information about the health of their phone’s battery, which can degrade over time,” it added. “Since the CMA raised its concerns, Apple had already started to be more up front with iPhone users, but today’s announcement locks the firm into formal commitments always to notify people when issuing a planned software update if it is expected to materially change the impact of performance management on their phones.”
Apple will also apparently provide “easily accessible information about battery health and unexpected shutdowns, along with guidance on how iPhone users can maximise the health of their phone’s battery.”
Apple agreed to do this for both current and future iPhones.
“By signing up to undertakings with the CMA, Apple has agreed that it will be bound by them,” said the CMA. “If it goes on to breach any of the commitments made, the CMA may take action through the courts.”
Apple has also reportedly been fined by Italy’s anti-trust watchdog in October last year for failing to give customers clear information about how to maintain or when to replace batteries.