Apple has agreed to pay $113 million to settle claims that it intentionally reduced iPhone performance due to a battery issue the company hid from consumers.
The money will go to 33 states and the District of Columbia, which alleged Apple throttled its iPhones starting in 2016, slowing down older iPhone models in an attempt to get users to buy newer models, according to a BBC report.
The scandal, which came to be known as “batterygate,” affected millions of iPhone 6, 7 and SE users.
Instead of disclosing issues with unexpected power-offs or allowing the batteries to be replaced, the states alleged, Apple chose to “cover up” the issues via a software update.
That iOS update allegedly limited the devices’ hardware performance in such a way that the phones “could not demand the power levels that were exceeding the abilities of problem batteries” and therefore causing the power-offs.
While Apple initially said the power-off issue wouldn’t affect iPhone 8 or later models, the lawsuit said, “the company eventually conceded that it would need to throttle those devices, as well,” meaning the problem was not limited to a few phones, but rather was “endemic to all iPhones.”
The $113 million deal with the states is separate from a class action settlement reached in March, in which Apple agreed to pay the affected iPhone owners as much as $500 million.
While Apple acknowledged one of its iOS updates reduced power demands after researchers detected slowdowns in 2017, the BBC reported, the company denies the allegations that the move was made for financial reasons.
In addition to paying the $113 million, Apple has agreed to a number of other terms in the iPhone battery life settlement.
The company will be required to maintain a webpage that provides consumers with clear information about lithium-ion batteries, as well as “Performance Management” and unexpected shutdowns, the judgment says. The site will also explain how consumers can maximize their phone’s battery life and describe how performance management affects iPhone battery life.
“Performance management” refers to functionality introduced in iOS 10.2.1 for managing the relevant iPhones’ performance “to match the peak power delivery of lithium-ion batteries,” according to the judgment.
In the event a future iOS update changes the effects of performance management, Apple is required to notify its customers of those changes in the update’s installation notes.
Apple also is required to provide consumers with information about the battery through the iPhone’s settings menu.
This information is to include the battery’s maximum capacity and performance capability, and will notify the user of the option to service the battery if they notice a decline in the iPhone battery life.
The attorney general for Arizona, the state that led the case, will receive $5,009,240.97, according to the judgment. The money is to be used for reimbursing attorneys’ fees and other investigation costs, distribution to appropriate “consumer protection enforcement funds,” or “any other lawful purpose” at the discretion of the Arizona attorney general.
The remainder of the $113 million will “be apportioned amongst the Attorneys General at their sole discretion.”
“Apple knowingly misled consumers and instead of disclosing the issue or even allowing simple battery replacements[;] Apple instead chose to implement a ‘fix’ that only created further issues for users and allowed the company to reap financial rewards of that deceit,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said, according to NBC25. “I am grateful this resolution seeks to hold Apple accountable for its actions and requires the company to take measures to avoid this misleading practice going forward.”
Michigan is expected to receive more than $2.6 million from the settlement, NBC25 reported.
Apple has admitted no liability in this case, and both parties have waived their right to an appeal, the judgment said.
“Big Tech companies must stop manipulating consumers and tell them the whole truth about their practices and products,” Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said in a press release. “I’m committed to holding these goliath technology companies accountable when they conceal important information from users.”
Did you own one of the affected iPhone models? Did you experience problems with iPhone battery life? Let us know in the comments below.
The plaintiff is represented by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich.
The iPhone Battery Life Lawsuit is State of Arizona v. Apple Inc., Case No. unknown, in the Superior Court of the State of Arizona, in and for the County of Maricopa.
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