Apple settles multi-state iPhone-throttling investigation for $113 million

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 2,641   +616
Staff member
What just happened? Apple has been slapped with another multimillion-dollar fine over its throttling of iPhone processors with aging batteries. The multi-state US investigation will be closed with a fine and a transparency mandate.

The Washington Post reports that Apple has agreed to settle a probe initiated by 34 state attorneys general and Washington DC for $113 million. Additionally, Apple must be more transparent about battery health both on the device and with information online.

The case was not so much about how Apple handled degraded batteries as it was about not disclosing its methods to its customers. The company began throttling performance without notifying the consumer in any way until after the fact.

"Big Tech must stop manipulating consumers and tell them the whole truth about their practices and products," said Arizona's Attorney General Mark Brnovich. "I'm committed to holding these Goliath technology companies to account if they conceal the truth from their users."

The scandal arose when users began noticing poor performance on their older iPhones in 2017. By the end of the year, and after many complaints, Apple admitted it had implemented a throttling mechanism in iOS to prevent them from unexpectedly powering down. The company apologized for its lack of transparency, but users had already begun pursuing legal avenues.

Today's settlement is the third in less than a year over the same issue. Back in March, Apple agreed to pay $500 million to affected users in a class-action lawsuit. Only a month prior, French regulators slapped the company with a $27 million fine. Today's settlement brings the total to $640 million that Cupertino has had to pay over the throttling fiasco.

But is that enough for the $2 trillion tech juggernaut? Today's $125 million payoff is less than a slap on the wrist by Apple's standards. Until Big Tech starts facing penalties that actually hurt, they are not likely to change their practices.

Image credit: Charging iPhone by Tada Images, Recycled Batteries by Parilov

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QuantumPhysics

Posts: 3,746   +3,640
"The case was not so much about how Apple handled degraded batteries as it was about not disclosing its methods to its customers."

Frankly, I understand the reasoning behind the throttling of phones with older batteries. This however wouldn't be an issue if Apple would charge less for battery (and display) repairs for users without Applepay.

 

nodfor

Posts: 26   +33
So apple made a fix that would allow older phones to remain in service longer and had to settle to avoid fines and stop litigation over the issue.
That is a matter between apple and the consumers to settle IMO - products were way over warranty, if consumers didn't like the way apple devices behaved with aged batteries, well they can always shop elsewhere for their next purchase.
This over-regulation is just hurting businesses, increasing the risk and cost of doing business with no apparent benefit for the consumer.
 
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gcarter

Posts: 103   +39
Anyone else think that this fine / people "up in arms" is SNOWFLAKE BS!
...concerning what was in essence a technically smart move by Apple, to keep their older devices running a little longer.

So what that they did it without informing their customers... its not like you were mortally wounded by your ageing iPhone running a little slower than normal!

Granted, they finally admitted the solution to keep older phones from powering off, but again is it really worth all the fuss?!

 

Uncle Al

Posts: 7,597   +6,114
Way, way, way too cheap. At minimum they should have required Apple to offer a full refund to the customers that would want one.
 
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USAvenger

Posts: 125   +173
They'll just pass the cost on to consumers - just like taxes. It's both funny and sad at the same time how some people fail to see or acknowledge this reality.
 
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m4a4

Posts: 2,048   +1,938
TechSpot Elite
So what that they did it without informing their customers... its not like you were mortally wounded by your ageing iPhone running a little slower than normal!

Granted, they finally admitted the solution to keep older phones from powering off, but again is it really worth all the fuss?!
Yes, because it's (yet another thing that is) deceitful towards their paying customers.
And Apple knew full well that the stealth throttling would be a convenient way to have their customers (especially the less-techy ones) feel like they should upgrade to that newly announced iPhone earlier.
 

0dium

Posts: 138   +149
They'll just pass the cost on to consumers - just like taxes. It's both funny and sad at the same time how some people fail to see or acknowledge this reality.
So corporations should be allowed to do anything they want cuz in the end consumers will pay for it anyway?
 
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Endymio

Posts: 1,079   +900
So corporations should be allowed to do anything they want cuz in the end consumers will pay for it anyway?
In this case, the "anything" they did was a benefit to consumers. Had Apple done nothing whatsoever, those consumers would have been worse off, and Apple would have not had this suit, meaning essentially they paid $113M (plus the cost of the patch itself) to help buyers who had old out-of-warranty phones.

You're acting like not wantonly suing corporations for trivial or even beneficial actions is akin to giving them carte blanche to rape, murder, and torture. Certainly we can draw a finer distinction than that, no?

A friend of mine has been struggling for over a year with a corrupt construction company who stole more than $1.5 million from him. The attorney general's office in his state (one of the ones busy with the Apple suit) are too busy to even return his phone calls. Helping him with actual, significant fraud won't net them the free publicity (and subsequent votes) that going after Apple will.
 

Cubi Dorf

Posts: 256   +124
I have android phone I use only as video player that is 8 year old still on original battery. It is not throttle and never having problem with it that would solve with throttle. I am not believing apple excuse. I believing they making excuse to cover up they are try to encouraging people buy new device. They very quick to settle case while most people still believing them.
 

0dium

Posts: 138   +149
In this case, the "anything" they did was a benefit to consumers. Had Apple done nothing whatsoever, those consumers would have been worse off, and Apple would have not had this suit, meaning essentially they paid $113M (plus the cost of the patch itself) to help buyers who had old out-of-warranty phones.

You're acting like not wantonly suing corporations for trivial or even beneficial actions is akin to giving them carte blanche to rape, murder, and torture. Certainly we can draw a finer distinction than that, no?

A friend of mine has been struggling for over a year with a corrupt construction company who stole more than $1.5 million from him. The attorney general's office in his state (one of the ones busy with the Apple suit) are too busy to even return his phone calls. Helping him with actual, significant fraud won't net them the free publicity (and subsequent votes) that going after Apple will.
I'd rather charge my phone more frequently than use a slow piece of brick. So what's the benefit for me?
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,079   +900
I'd rather charge my phone more frequently than use a slow piece of brick. So what's the benefit for me?
The fix wasn't to allow you to go longer between charges, but to prevent the phone from randomly shutting off, due to an aging battery not being able to supply the requisite voltage. And, of course if you prefer a phone that dies randomly, you could have always turned off the free software updates that Apple provides. So again -- what's the problem to you?

I have android phone...It is not throttle. I am not believing apple excuse....They very quick to settle case...
Your phone has a different battery, powering a different cpu. How in the world do you believe that's relevant? And as for Apple "settling quickly", the case itself is over three years old now, the issue is nearly a decade old. That's quick?