Apple Pays $113 Million To Settle iPhone Slowdown Probe

Apple is to pay $113m (£85m) to settle an official investigation by 33 US states into its deliberate policy of slowing down older iPhone models.

Apple had claimed the slowdown would help avoid unexpected handset shutdowns and preserve older batteries, but the US states had claimed that Apple had done this to force users to purchase new devices.

This settlement is on top of the $500 million litigation settlement announced in March 2019 in the United States.

Handset slowdown

In July this year Apple confirmed that affected users could claim $25 (£20) for each affected handset. US owners of iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, 7, 7 Plus, and SE devices are all entitled to the $25 payment.

The whole issue began back in December 2017, when it was discovered that Apple had deliberately slowed down older iPhones, which it claimed would help avoid unexpected handset shutdowns.

The issue was discovered when an iPhone user shared performance tests on Reddit that revealed that a iPhone 6S had slowed down considerably as it had aged.

However the handset suddenly sped up again after the battery was replaced, pointing to a deliberate policy by Apple to slow older iPhones.

In the ensuing outrage, Apple was forced to say sorry over the matter and lowered the price for replacement batteries to $29 from $79, but it denied accusations at the time that it was a clumsy attempt to force customers to upgrade to new handsets.

Apple’s official position on the matter remains that lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying and maintaining peak current demands, as they age.

Apple insisted its slowdown (or throttling) was designed to stop older iPhones unexpectedly shutting down, so as to protect its electronic components.

But just one week after Apple’s admission in December 2017 that it slowed down older iPhones, three class-action lawsuits were launched in the US against the iPad maker.

Plaintiffs argued they didn’t consent to the company’s “interference”, and the lawsuits were eventually combined into a single case against the tech giant.

Fresh settlement

That lawsuit resulted in the $500 million settlement. Now the firm is paying $113m to settle the investigation by US states.

Under the settlement, Apple according to the BBC did not admit to any wrongdoing or breaking any law.

Apple also agreed for the next three years to provide “truthful information” about iPhone power management across its website, software update notes and iPhone settings.

In May 2019 on this side of the pond, Apple promised the UK competition watchdog, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), to be “clearer and more upfront with iPhone users about battery health and performance,” after the CMA investigated the American tech giant.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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