The purpose of slowing down older phones, according to Apple, was to improve battery life and therefore increase the longevity of older phones. However, the fact that they didn’t inform consumers (or give them a choice) was, understandably, an issue. It seemed like the company was planning for phone obsolescence and forcing people into new handsets. Apple introduced a new battery health feature in iOS 11.3 and discounted the price of replacement batteries after the resulting outcry.
The surprise here is the inclusion of Samsung. Apple’s actions in this arena have been well-known; Samsung has not been previously accused of similarly throttling phone performance. However, the Italian statement said that both Samsung and Apple’s updates “had caused serious dysfunctions and reduced performance significantly, thereby accelerating the process of replacing them.”