Apple has agreed to a second payment of $113 million after it was found to have been slowing down the speed of older iPhones after a sizable investigation from 34 states in the U.S. into Apple’s quality practices.
The news of a second settlement comes just months after Apple finalised a $500 million agreement to settle a class-action suit, which offered customers a pay out if their device was implicated in the ‘battery-gate’ scandal.
The ‘battery-gate’ scandal centered on allegations that Apple was slowing the performance of older iPhones; a form of planned obsolescence to accelerate a hardware update.
In the latest settlement, lawyers representing 34 U.S. state regulators have said that Apple had ‘throttled’ certain devices – slowing down older iPhones – as well as hiding battery degradation from their owners.
The settlement does not aim to prove wrongdoing on the behalf of Apple, but does hope to bring consumers some relief if they believe they were misled by Apple’s practices.
Lawyers working on the behalf of the plaintiffs say that Apple “fully understood” what it was doing, with reports stating that Apple was able to “spend a year profiting off people who thought they needed to buy a new iPhone, when they only really needed to replace their phone’s battery to avoid throttling or unexpected shutdowns.”
California’s Attorney General, Xavier Becerra said that said “Apple withheld information about their batteries that slowed down iPhone performance, all while passing it off as an update.” California is set to receive $24 million as part of the settlement.
“This type of behaviour hurts the pockets of consumers and limits their ability to make informed purchases,” he continued to explain. “Today’s settlement ensures consumers will have access to the information they need to make a well-informed decision when purchasing and using Apple products.”
Apple said in a court filing that “nothing contained herein may be taken as or construed to be an admission or concession of any violation of law, rule, or regulation, or of any other matter of fact or law, or of any liability of wrongdoing, all of which Apple expressly denies.”
“No part of this judgment, including its statements and commitments, shall constitute evidence of any liability, fault, or wrongdoing by Apple,” the company said.
Arizona’s Attorney General Mark Brnovich has said that “many consumers decided that the only way to get improved performance was to purchase a newer-model iPhone from Apple… Apple, of course, fully understood such effects on sales,” he said.
“Big Tech must stop manipulating consumers and tell them the whole truth about their practices and products… I’m committed to holding these goliath technology companies to account if they conceal the truth from their users,” Brnovich continued to explain.
Arizona is set to receive $5 million from Apple, as per the terms of the settlement. Its state investigators have said that the move to conceal information from customers could have increased sales “potentially by millions of devices per year.”
According to a report from NPR, “the deal also stipulates that Apple operate a website that makes iPhone updates that affect batteries ‘clear and conspicuous’ to consumers. The agreement still awaits final approval from the court.”
In 2017, Apple denied the allegations of intentionally slowing down certain phones, stating that “our goal is to deliver the best experience for customers, which includes overall performance and prolonging the life of their devices.”
According to a report from CNET, “critics cried foul, and just over a week later, Apple formally apologized while insisting it acted in the best interest of customers. It also offered a $29 battery replacement for a limited time to anyone who asked, rather than charging the typical $79.”
Apple said at the time that “we have never – and would never – do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades. Our goal has always been to create products that customers love, and making iPhones last as long as possible is an important part of that.”
“We know that some of you feel Apple has let you down. We apologise,” the company said in a 2017 statement.
Joseph Cotchett, co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs said back in March that “the settlement provides substantial relief to Apple consumers and, going forward, will help ensure that customers are fully informed when asked to update their products.”