France is investigating Apple over allegations that it deliberately limits the repair options for its smartphones, potentially rendering them obsolete.
When using Apple's self-service repair program, customers are required to provide the serial number of their device when ordering parts for products such as iPhones and Macs. Moreover, any parts obtained through this program must be matched with the specific intended device, ensuring proper installation and compatibility.
However, France's Halte l'Obsolescence Programme (HOP) association complains that Apple's policy of using serialized parts lets it restrict repairs to authorized repair providers and limits devices that don't use certified parts. HOP calls on Apple to "to guarantee the right to repair devices under the logic of real circular economy."
As a result, France has opened an investigation into Apple over "planned obsolescence" to determine if it intentionally plans for iPhones to become out of date due to these repair restrictions, according to AFP.
HOP lodged a complaint against Apple in 2017 for intentionally reducing the maximum performance of certain older iPhone models with deteriorating batteries, a measure aimed at preventing unexpected shutdowns.
After Apple acknowledged that it deliberately slowed down older iPhones, the company faced numerous legal challenges. However, Apple said it was crucial for preventing sudden shutdowns that may harm the iPhone's electronics.
Critics and plaintiffs argued that Apple's policy, whether intentional or not, pushes users toward purchasing new iPhones. Older models often encounter difficulties with the latest applications and iOS updates.
In 2020, Apple reached a settlement to pay $27.4 million for not informing iPhone users that software updates could potentially decrease the performance of older devices.