French prosecutors have opened an investigation into Apple over claims it slowed older phones to encourage consumers to purchase newer models.
The investigation is being fronted by the finance ministry’s fraud control department and follows a legal complaint filed after Apple admitted slowing down old iPhone devices with low-capacity batteries.
Apple revealed it had “downclocked” older models’ central processing units (CPU) but said it did so to reduce the strain on dated batteries and stop the devices from unexpectedly shutting down.
The admission came after years of speculation from Apple customers that their older handsets were being slowed down in a bid to entice them into an upgrade.
In France, it is illegal to shorten the lifetime of products to encourage consumers to replace them.
Apple has said that it slowed batteries in order to lengthen the lifetime of its products, and that it would be replacing the batteries of all iPhone 6 and later devices if customers requested.
In France, Apple has been under pressure from tax evasion protest groups, which interrupted the launch of the iPhone X in Paris.
Amid a wave of class action lawsuits over the “deceptive, immoral, and unethical” phone slowing, Apple has issued an apology and vowed to be more transparent with customers over the capacity of iPhone batteries.
In a post on its website, it said: “We know that some of you feel Apple has let you down. We apologise.
“There’s been a lot of misunderstanding about this issue, so we would like to clarify and let you know about some changes we’re making.
“First and foremost, we have never – and would never – do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades.
“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.”