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South Korea probes Apple's decision to slow down iPhones with weak batteries

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The Korea Communications Commission has reportedly asked for an explanation in the wake of Apple's admission that it slows down older iPhones to prolong battery life.

"We are hoping to get some answers on whether Apple intentionally restricted the performance of old iPhones and tried to hide this from customers," the Commission said according to The Korea Herald. The organization can't actually launch a formal investigation of Apple, since it's a multinational firm beyond its jursidiction.

Nevertheless the request could signal greater problems for Apple. The company is already facing a mounting number of lawsuits in the U.S. and elsewhere, and it might not be long before other governments take action. In fact Korean lawmakers have been proposing changes which could theoretically bring companies like Apple under more accountability.

On Dec. 20, Apple responded to a growing number of anecdotes about iPhone batteries with a statement.

"Our goal is to deliver the best experience for customers, which includes overall performance and prolonging the life of their devices," the company said. "Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, have a low battery charge or as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components.

"Last year we released a feature for iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone SE to smooth out the instantaneous peaks only when needed to prevent the device from unexpectedly shutting down during these conditions. We've now extended that feature to iPhone 7 with iOS 11.2, and plan to add support for other products in the future."

Critics, including some plaintiffs, have noted that Apple benefits from this financially. Customers dealing with a lethargic iPhone may be prompted to buy a new one instead of asking for a battery upgrade, which in some cases Apple might be obligated to provide for free. The issue is compounded by the demands newer apps and iOS updates can impose.