Apple to pay $152m to settle lawsuits over iPhone battery power

A 2014 photo shows a man holding an iPhone 6, one of the affected models.
A 2014 photo shows a man holding an iPhone 6, one of the affected models.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON • Apple will pay US$113 million (S$152 million) to settle allegations by more than three dozen US regulators that the company misled consumers about iPhone battery power and software updates that slowed the performance of the devices.

The settlement was reached with 33 states and the District of Columbia, according to statements on Wednesday from several attorneys-general.

Regulators alleged that Apple equipped iPhones with batteries that tended to lose power and shut down, and then tried to manage the issue through updates that "throttled" the devices' performance in order to prevent them from turning off.

"Apple withheld information about its batteries that slowed down iPhone performance, all while passing it off as an update," said California Attorney-General Xavier Becerra, whose state will receive US$24.6 million from the settlement.

"This type of behaviour hurts the pockets of consumers and limits their ability to make informed purchases.

"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."

In early 2018, Apple confirmed it had been intentionally throttling the speeds of some older phones to avoid battery-related problems and offered cheap battery upgrades to extend the life of many handsets after customers complained.

The issue prompted inquiries from federal regulators and lawsuits from state attorneys-general and district attorneys.

Under terms of the agreement, Apple will provide information about how it manages power performance on a "prominent and accessible" website, notify all affected consumers when an update will affect their phone and inform users on the device about whether they should update the battery.

Apple customers have asked a California federal court to give final approval to a class settlement, calling for the company to pay between US$310 million and US$500 million to resolve allegations that it hindered the battery performance of older iPhones.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 20, 2020, with the headline 'Apple to pay $152m to settle lawsuits over iPhone battery power'. Print Edition | Subscribe