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Apple asked to respond to China consumer group about slowing older iPhones

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Apple is now facing questions about how it slows down older iPhones in China.

The Xinhua state news agency reported yesterday that the Shanghai Consumer Council has written to Apple asking it to explain the performance hit and any remedies it is offering to consumers.

The company has been asked to respond to the Council’s letter by Friday.

The Council said it received 2,615 complaints about Apple products and services in 2017, compared to 964 complaints in 2015.

We’ve reached out to Apple for comment and will update this story with any response.

Earlier this month French authorities opened an investigation into the performance issue following a complaint by a French consumer group that campaigns against planned obsolescence. A 2015 law made programmed obsolescence illegal in the country.

Apple has also been on the receiving end of a letter demanding answers on the issue in the US — with Republican Senator John Thune writing to the company with his concerns earlier this month.

In December Apple publicly acknowledged the performance hit which affects the iPhone 6, 6S, 7 and SE, responding to online complaints that it throttles performance on the older iPhones by saying it was doing so to prolong the life of devices which could suffer unexpected shutdowns because older batteries were not able to handle peaks of processing power.

It subsequently apologized in a message to customers for not being more transparent about how it handles performance. And began offering a battery replacement for the out-of-warranty affected devices for a reduced $29.

While Apple did release information about the battery shutdown fix in iOS 10.2.1 last year, it wasn’t entirely clear that the power management tweak would also slow down older models of the iPhone.

Hence criticism has lingered — with some, including Thune, also questioning why Apple is not now offering free battery replacements for owners of affected devices.

There has also been anger among some iPhone owners that the process for booking a battery replacement has not always been as smooth and easy as they’d like.

Spare a thought for iPhone 6s owners — some of whom have already had to go through the hassle of having their battery replaced as a consequence of a faulty batch which had caused unexpected shutdowns.

Wendy Pettit

Wendy Pettit is a writer for NYT and writes for other publications on her spare time. She lives in Chicago with her husband and her dog Zuko.

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