Italy Fines Apple $12 Million for Misleading iPhone Water Resistance Claims

Apple has been slapped with a 10 million euro ($12 million) fine by Italy's antitrust watchdog for unfair commercial practices related to its iPhone marketing in the country.

One of the Apple ads cited in the Italian watchdog's proceedings (credit: setteBIT)

Specifically, Apple is being charged for misleading claims in promotional messages about how deep and how long iPhones can be submerged in water without being damaged.

In marketing materials related to ‌iPhone‌ 8, ‌iPhone‌ 8 Plus, ‌iPhone‌ XR, ‌iPhone‌ XS, ‌iPhone‌ XS Max, ‌iPhone‌ 11, ‌iPhone‌ 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max, Apple said its iPhones were water resistant at a depth of between one and four meters for up to 30 minutes, depending on the model.

However, according to the country's competition regulator, the messages did not clarify that the claims are only true under specific conditions, for example during controlled laboratory tests with the use of static and pure water, and not in the normal conditions of use by consumers.

The regulator also took issue with Apple's warranty terms, which do not cover damage caused by liquids. The authority considered it inappropriate to push an "aggressive" commercial practice highlighting water resistance as a feature, while at the same time refusing to provide post-sales warranty assistance if the ‌iPhone‌ models in question suffer water damage.

This isn't the first time Apple has fallen under the radar of Italy's antitrust watchdog and subsequently been punished. In 2018 Apple was fined 10 million euros (about $11.5 million USD) for "planned obsolescence" of its smartphones, following the regulator's investigation into reports of iPhone battery slowdowns.

(Via setteBIT.)

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Top Rated Comments

MaxBurn Avatar
46 months ago
I always thought it was BS to claim any sort of water resistance and then deny any form of warranty liquid claim.
Score: 114 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mazz0 Avatar
46 months ago

this is idiotic
Your post? Yes, it would appear to be.
Score: 56 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BaltimoreMediaBlog Avatar
46 months ago

this is idiotic
No it's not. I fell down while swimming this summer and my iPhone only briefly went in shallow water and would not charge for days before being ok. I almost junked it as I thought it might be hopeless. So these waterproof claims are seriously bogus. And we're not talking meters here either. I'm talking only splashing inches into the water and that made it fail! to charge anymore!

And guess what the solution was? Spraying more water on the connector and then putting it back in the tray of rice! HAHA!
Score: 48 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MaxBurn Avatar
46 months ago

No it's not. I fell down while swimming this summer and my iPhone only briefly went in shallow water and would not charge for days before being ok. I almost junked it as I thought it might be hopeless. So these waterproof claims are seriously bogus. And we're not talking meters here either. I'm talking only splashing inches into the water and that made it fail!
Exactly. Either the device has some sort of meaningful water resistance that a consumer will encouter like rain, sink splashes, even a falling in a pool sort of situation or you shouldn't get to claim water resistance at all.
Score: 46 Votes (Like | Disagree)
xenitassos Avatar
46 months ago
This can’t be stressed enough. Face ID broke on my iPhone XS (still had warranty) because a glass of water fell on it. You can’t advertise improved water resistance as a selling point (they made a big deal of it in the XS reveal) and then deny warranty.
Score: 36 Votes (Like | Disagree)
profets Avatar
46 months ago
Many of these lawsuits are rather frivolous, but the water resistance aspect is interesting.

I believe other manufacturers do the same - they advertise certain water resistance, but then they can still deny warranty claim / repair if water sensor is tripped or water damage is found.

I’ve been burned myself for a repair on an iPhone where Apple claimed there was water damage but I know it had never been submersed or in water.
Score: 31 Votes (Like | Disagree)