U.S. Government Official Questions Apple Over iPhone Battery Slowdowns

Just two days after it emerged a French consumer fraud group is investigating Apple over its handling of battery-related performance issues on iPhones, Apple is now facing questions from government officials in its own country over the controversy.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that Senator John Thune (R–S.D.), chairman of the Commerce Committee, has sent a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook asking a series of questions about how the company decided to throttle processing performance in iPhones with older batteries.

In a letter to Chief Executive Tim Cook, a copy of which was viewed by The Wall Street Journal, Thune asked how Apple has tracked customer complaints of processing performance, and if Apple has explored offering rebates to customers who paid full price for a battery replacement before the company offered discounted rates last month.
In the letter, Thune went on to note that Apple's decision to offer battery replacements at a reduced price had prompted further criticism from customers who believe that Apple should have offered the replacements for free.

In addition to the senator's letter, Wednesday's WSJ report included official confirmation from the Paris prosecutor's office that it is overseeing an investigation into Apple's "alleged deception" that is being conducted by French consumer fraud group DGCCRF, which is part of the country's economy ministry.

The investigation – which could lead to preliminary charges or be dropped – follows Apple's admission that it slows down some older iPhones with degraded batteries during times of peak power usage in order to prevent unexpected shutdowns. Apple introduced the power management feature in iOS 10.2.1 after complaints of unexpected shutdowns in the iPhone 6s, but the company didn't make it clear to consumers that it was due to battery deterioration, nor did Apple inform customers that it could cause occasional performance slowdowns.

Despite Apple's apology and its efforts to correct the issue, in addition to the French inquiry, the company is now facing more than two dozen lawsuits accusing it of intentionally slowing down older iPhones and failing to disclose the changes that it introduced in iOS 10.2.1. One of those lawsuits also stems from France, filed by French consumer group "HOP", which translates to "Stop Planned Obsolescence".

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Top Rated Comments

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25 months ago
Glad to see Apple being held accountable:

* Silently slipping in a throttling virus which made people's phones worse
* Only admitting to anything once being caught red-handed by users
* Giving some worthless corporate apology with no name behind it thinking it makes up for their shady behavior
* Charging people $29 for battery replacements when they should be free as a complete recall
* Not giving users an option in the settings to turn off the throttling if they want to risk it

Even through this whole fiasco... Apple STILL hasn't explained anything in specific technical terms how the throttling actually works! When does it begin to throttle the device and how much? At 90% battery capacity? 85%? 80%? Nobody knows!

Apple was intentionally vague in their apology response on how the throttling ("feature" LoL) works because they know they f***ed up and don't want to give the lawsuits greater ammunition.

I hope Apple gets taken to the cleaners as a lesson, for themselves and others, not to be some shady corporation that thinks it can get away with anti-consumer behavior like this simply for higher profits.

I am beyond disappointed in Apple as they used to be a company people can trust. Glad most people can see Apple screwed up royally and I hope it influences them to take a more transparent / consumer friendly approach in the future.
Rating: 52 Votes
25 months ago

Yeah, but who’d turn that setting ON? I.e., who’d want their phone to crash at random?

No one, but that's not the point. The phones shouldn't crash at random, and if they do then it's a hardware fault.

Also, this never used to happen on older iPhones, so why is it happening now? I believe they skimped on battery quality.
Rating: 40 Votes
25 months ago
A lot of people online are defending Apple saying they did this change so peoples phones wouldn't shut off under high loads.

And that's fine, the problem is they didn't tell anyone this was how they were mitigating the sudden shutdown issue which lead consumers to believe their phones were getting slower not due to ageing batteries but due to newer software needing higher specifications which lead consumers to upgrade to newer devices at significant cost when they could have purchased a much cheaper replacement battery.

That's the problem, Apples lack of communication. Now the question which the lawsuits will be seeking an answer to is whether Apple deliberately did not explain this because they knew it would help sales of newer iPhones.

Personally I hope that Apple gets really beaten up over this because we as consumers deserve to know what their software patches are really doing at a deeper level than vague "General improvements and bug fixes" etc
Rating: 36 Votes
25 months ago
Has anyone from Apple explained why the battery in the iPhone is only rated for half the charging cycles of the Apple Watch, iPad and MacBooks?
Rating: 35 Votes
25 months ago

Very interesting. Wonder where this will go next.

Hopefully better batteries, more options in iOS to control battery/performance balance and cheaper battery replacements permanently.

Although I won't hold my breath.
Rating: 21 Votes
25 months ago
They deserve it for trying to pull planned obsolescence.

Why should Apple offer free battery replacements in old phones? Batteries degrade over time, that's life. People sure have a sense of entitlement in 2018.

Because they intentionally slowed older iPhones without informing the user.
Rating: 20 Votes
25 months ago
Just let those phones shut down by itself and deny service since they're out of warranty, just like every other one does, and Apple won't be sued again.
Rating: 19 Votes
25 months ago

Why should Apple offer free battery replacements in old phones? Batteries degrade over time, that's life. People sure have a sense of entitlement in 2018.

Good quality batteries degrade over time. Bad quality batteries cause these kind of problems that iphone 6/6s/7 useres around the world are currently dealing with. Apple installed low quality batteries into their phones, and two years later, instead of telling everybody that their batteries are crap, they implemented CPU throttling with an excuse that "Iphones might shut down at 20% because their CPU needs more power than an average Tesla car". With it, they hoped that people will just confuse throttling with their phones being old, so they would just buy a new phone (a lot of people actually did) and this whole battery issue would go away. Well, luckily for us consumers(and unlucky for Apple fanboys), the crap has hit the fan and Apple is going to pay dearly for their sleazy tactics.
Rating: 16 Votes
25 months ago

Why should Apple offer free battery replacements in old phones? Batteries degrade over time, that's life. People sure have a sense of entitlement in 2018.

There time and there's "time".

I have a 6S. About 3 months into ownership I took it in for a battery check and was told it was something like 95% healthy, but I had the symptons which would eventually lead to the recall.

After 18 months my battery was shot, yet an Apple diagnosis showed it at 83% health. I showed them the percentage visably going down in front of them, but their diagnosis said it was fine.

Batteries will degrade, but when their diagnosis tools are so wrong and they mislead customers, there will be rage. Additionally, if they are designing phones that perform and look wonderful, but to the extent that batteries degrade so fast, there is a design flaw and they should replace batteries.
Rating: 15 Votes
25 months ago
The consumer group "HOP" can go hop off a bridge.

Apple has already stated, in plain language, that this has nothing to do with planned obsolescence. In fact, it's the exact opposite — an effort to make devices last longer.

There may in fact be a real concern here, though, because I personally don't consider the iPhone 6 to be "old". I've had Apple devices with batteries that have lasted 4-6 years without any talk about this type of issue. So did Apple actually change _something_ with their battery strategy that led to iPhone 6 and later to have battery problems? Are the batteries too small or thin for the device's longevity? Is processing power becoming more than today's thin batteries can handle?

I really hope that, by this time next year, Apple has turned this issue around 180° and has the best batteries on the planet!
Rating: 15 Votes

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