Payment, please: Apple pays $ 113 million to settle 34-state "battery gate" lawsuit


Apple has agreed to pay $ 113 million to 34 states and the District of Columbia to clarify allegations that it violated consumer protection laws when it systematically downplayed widespread iPhone battery issues in 2016. That is on top of the half billion the company already paid to consumers during the year it paid out earlier this year and numerous other fines around the world.

As we've reported over the years, the problem has been that a new version of iOS caused older (but not so old) iPhones to shut down unexpectedly, and an update that "fixes" this issue has caused the performance of those devices secretly throttled.

Conspiratorial people, whom we now know to be numerous, suspected that this was a deliberate deterioration in performance to push ahead with the purchase of a new phone. This was not the case, but Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who led the investigation in several states, showed Apple was well aware of the scale of the problem and the flaws in its solution.

Brnovich and colleagues said that Apple violated various consumer protection laws, such as the Consumer Fraud Act in Arizona, by providing information about the problems with the iPhone battery and the irreversible negative effects of the update that was released to correct the problem, " misrepresented and concealed ”.

Apple agreed to a $ 113 million settlement that will not allow for wrongdoing and will be divided among the states as they choose. This is not a fine like the 25 million euros imposed by the French authorities. If Apple had been held liable for legal penalties, they might have done much, much more than the amount agreed today. The Arizona CFA allows up to $ 10,000 per willful violation, and even a fraction of that would have added up very quickly given the number of people involved.

In addition to cash settlement, Apple must provide consumers with "truthful information about the condition, performance and energy management of the iPhone battery" in various ways. The company changed this years ago, but settlements like this have such requirements that they can't just turn around and do it again, although some companies like Facebook do it anyway.


Katherine Clark