Apple to pay $113 million settlement over its iPhone ‘batterygate’ slowdowns
Apple is paying $113 million to settle an investigation by 34 states and the District of Columbia over the company’s practice of slowing down the performance of older iPhones when their batteries degrade. Apple’s moves weren’t announced by the company, but rather proven by internet sleuths. That led regulators and customers alike to criticize the company for not being forthcoming, particularly when asked about it in the past.
“Big Tech must stop manipulating consumers and tell them the whole truth about their practices and products,” Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who helped lead the investigation, said in a statement. “I’m committed to holding these goliath technology companies to account if they conceal the truth from their users.” Apple will pay Arizona in particular $5 million, with the rest split among other states. The Washington Post earlier reported the news.
Apple, in court filings, said it had agreed to the settlement to resolve the investigations, but “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 or 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 added.
The move is the latest example of how big tech is coming under ever more scrutiny from regulators and lawmakers. Though the “batterygate” saga, as it’s known, happened before larger tech scandals like Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica data privacy and political elections scandal, the event marked a turning point for the iPhone maker.
Apple for years had denied allegations that it purposely slows iPhones down, but the conspiracy theory persisted arguing that the tech giant made the headsets less usable to push people to upgrade. When Apple admitted it slowed down iPhones, though it argued for a different reason, it drew attention from around the globe.
“Our goal is to deliver the best experience for customers, which includes overall performance and prolonging the life of their devices,” Apple said in an initial statement on Dec. 20, 2017, as it faced mounting criticism. It explained that when older batteries can’t supply enough power when phones are attempting more complex tasks, like playing a video game, it slows the phone’s chips down to a level the battery can perform at.
Critics cried foul, and class-action lawsuits followed.