DOJ and SEC launch an investigation into Apple’s controversial iPhone CPU throttling

Apple’s controversial practice of slowing down iPhones with worn-out batteries to prevent unexpected shutdowns apparently didn’t sit well with the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Bloomberg reported today that both the DOJ and SEC are now investigating whether the Cupertino technology giant may have violated securities laws concerning its disclosures about the iOS 11.2 software update that brought CPU throttling to additional iPhone models.

The news comes as Apple shares have been under pressure on concern about weaker-then-expected iPhone X sales ahead of its earnings report on Thursday. US government officials, including Senator John Thune, have also questioned Apple about the slowdowns.

From the report:

The government has requested information from the company, according to the people, who asked not to be named because the probe is private. The inquiry is in early stages, they cautioned, and it’s too soon to conclude any enforcement will follow.

iOS 11.2 brought CPU throttling to newer iPhones, like iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone SE. This feature automatically activates when the operating system determines that the device’s battery has degraded beyond a certain threshold.

Apple began throttling CPU speed with the iOS 10.2.1 update.

Following the iOS 10.2.1 release, Apple said that the software update helped reduce unexpected iPhone 6s shutdowns by 60%, clarifying in a statement provided to TechCrunch.

With iOS 10.2.1, Apple made improvements to reduce occurrences of unexpected shutdowns that a small number of users were experiencing with their iPhone.

iOS 10.2.1 already has over 50% of active iOS devices upgraded and the diagnostic data we’ve received from upgraders shows that for this small percentage of users experiencing the issue, we’re seeing a more than 80% reduction in iPhone 6s and over 70% reduction on iPhone 6 of devices unexpectedly shutting down.

The biggest problem in this story is Apple’s laughable mishandling of the problem.

For starters, this feature was nowhere to be seen in the original iOS 10.2.1 release notes that users could check out from the Settings → General → Software Update screen.

The company quietly refreshed the iOS 10.2.1 release notes on its website with a vague mention of iPhone throttling. iOS 10.2.1, as per the updated changelog, also “improves power management during peak workloads to avoid unexpected shutdowns on iPhone.”

Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook inadvertently made matters worse by sayin recently that “a lot of people weren’t paying attention” to the release notes accompanying the iOS 10.2.1 update.

“Early in 2018, we will issue an iOS software update with new features that give users more visibility into the health of their iPhone’s battery, so they can see for themselves if its condition is affecting performance,” according to Apple’s open letter to customers.

As part of its public apology, Apple cut the prices of iPhone battery replacements in its stores to $29 throughout 2018, a $50 discount. The upcoming iOS 11.3 update, due this spring, will bring new features to let people monitor the health of their batteries and protect against slowdowns, including the ability to turn off the controversial throttling at will.

In the meantime, Apple is delaying some key iPhone and Mac software features planned for release this year in order to focus on quality improvements, we learned earlier today.