On Wednesday, Apple agreed to pay $ 113 million to settle a fraud dispute initiated by more than 30 US states, NPR said. The company was accused of secretly slowing down old iPhones. A controversy known as the “batterygate”.
Apple initially denied deliberately slowing down iPhone batteries. Then the brand recognized doing it to preserve the life of the batteries. “Lithium-ion batteries lose their ability to respond to peaks in consumption when it is cold, when they are weakly charged or when they age,” acknowledged Apple. “Last year, we launched a feature to smooth out spikes on iPhone 6, 6S and SE when needed, to prevent a device from shutting down unexpectedly. We have extended this function to the iPhone 7 with iOS 11.2. “
Apple has acted deceptively by hiding the problems of stopping and slowing down its smartphones, argues the complaint filed in court. “A lot of consumers have decided that the only way to get better performance is to buy a newer iPhone from Apple,” says the Arizona attorney general. “Apple, of course, fully understood these effects on sales. “
Increase iPhone sales “potentially millions of devices per year”
According to investigators, this decision increased iPhone sales “potentially millions of devices per year.”
The battery problem would have affected Apple smartphones which were marketed between 2014 and 2016. At the time, Apple said that the unexpected iPhone shutdowns, a consequence of this slowdown, affected a “very small number” of iPhones. But investigators say behind the scenes Apple is working to cover up the issue from the public.
Finally, in December 2017, Apple admitted to battery slowdowns, which led the company to apologize. Which is very rare. “We never have – and never would – do anything that would intentionally shorten the lifespan of an Apple product, or degrade the user experience to entice customers to upgrade,” says Apple at the time.
Not a first for Apple
In March, Apple agreed to pay up to $ 500 million to settle a dispute over the intentional slowdown in older phones. This regulation requires Apple to pay consumers at least $ 25 per iPhone. But some consumers, who have already spent hundreds of dollars on a new device, see these payments as not high enough.
The deal covered owners of iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, 7, 7 Plus, or SE running iOS 10.2.1 – or later – as well as iPhone 7 and 7 Plus running iOS 11.2 – or later – for devices purchased before December 21, 2017.
In France, the General Directorate for Competition, Consumption and Fraud Control (DGCCRF) had imposed a fine of 25 million euros on the brand in connection with this case.
A website to learn more about Apple batteries
As part of Wednesday’s settlement, $ 113 million will be split among states, including California, Tennessee and Pennsylvania. In Arizona, the funds will cover attorneys’ fees and be used to fund future consumer protection investigations. The deal also says Apple will set up a website that makes iPhone battery updates “clear and visible” to consumers.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said the deal reached Wednesday exposed Apple’s deceptive behavior. “Big Tech companies must stop manipulating consumers and tell them the whole truth about their practices and their products,” said the prosecutor. “I am committed to holding these tech companies to account if they hide the truth from their users. “