Apple paying $113M to settle multi-state investigation into iPhone throttling

Posted:
in General Discussion edited November 2020
Apple will pay $113 million to settle a multi-state investigation of an iOS mechanism that throttled iPhone performance to prevent random shutdowns and preserve battery lifespan.

Credit: iFixit
Credit: iFixit


That mechanism, which came to light in 2017, drew scrutiny from consumers and regulators who saw it as evidence of a so-called "planned obsolescence" scheme. The investigation involves nearly three dozen states and was led by Arizona, Arkansas, and Indiana.

On Wednesday, the states secured a financial penalty and legal commitment by Apple to be more transparent about similar mechanisms in the future. Investigators from 34 states and Washington, D.C. joined the settlement, The Washington Post reported.

The lawsuit originates from an issue with the iPhone 6 in 2017. Aging iPhone batteries were causing devices to shut down intermittently during peak operations, especially when at a low percentage. Apple countered this by quietly releasing an update that would throttle peak processing power during certain conditions to prevent those random shutdowns.

The update came and went without much notice. In 2017, users of older devices complained of slow speeds, however, and Apple eventually admitted to throttling old devices to mitigate shutdowns. That led to the so-called "Batterygate" controversy.

Despite attempts to educate users, Apple was targeted with multiple lawsuits, which pushed Apple to take action.

The Cupertino tech giant implemented new features that allowed to view battery health in the Settings app. Apple also lowered the price of battery exchanges for some models.

Along with the financial penalty levied on Wednesday, the states will also require Apple to clearly disclose its battery health and power management systems -- both on iPhones and online. Apple's existing battery health routines in iOS and macOS seem to cover what the states have required

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 16
    Crazy they are having to pay out for this as they wee only trying to prevent shutdowns on phones.


    mike1williamlondoncornchipwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 2 of 16
    mike1mike1 Posts: 2,948member
    Crazy they are having to pay out for this as they wee only trying to prevent shutdowns on phones.


    No good deed goes unpunished.
    Dogpersonwilliamlondoncornchipwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 3 of 16
    flydogflydog Posts: 1,093member
    Crazy they are having to pay out for this as they wee only trying to prevent shutdowns on phones.


    The issue is that it wasn’t disclosed, not that the act itself was wrong. 
    williamlondonlarryadbvapor
  • Reply 4 of 16
    mike1 said:
    Crazy they are having to pay out for this as they wee only trying to prevent shutdowns on phones.


    No good deed goes unpunished.
    The power draw of the phone and battery capacity after a period of use was mismatched. That’s a design flaw. 
    williamlondonpulseimages
  • Reply 5 of 16
    AI_lias said:
    mike1 said:
    Crazy they are having to pay out for this as they wee only trying to prevent shutdowns on phones.


    No good deed goes unpunished.
    The power draw of the phone and battery capacity after a period of use was mismatched. That’s a design flaw. 
    Bull. Chips have always been throttled for heat or for battery. This was a dumb loss for Apple and they should appeal.
    williamlondonwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 6 of 16
    Mob mentality, what a societal treasure.
    watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 7 of 16
    I’m still extremely surprised that Apple wasn’t able to overcome the gross lack of understanding that went into the criticism, lawsuit, and final ruling. Apple decided to give users optimal performance when their battery aged, making it less necessity replace the device. The intent and outcome was the polar opposite of what they were accused and convicted of doing. So many people are so stupid. 
    williamlondonwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 8 of 16
    larryalarrya Posts: 586member
    I resent this phrasing:

    Despite attempts to educate users, Apple was targeted with multiple lawsuits, which pushed Apple to take action.

    I didn’t need to be educated about how batteries work. I needed Apple to disclose that they radically changed my phone’s performance characteristics, and I deserved to be a party to that decision. 
    williamlondonBobbypduemuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 9 of 16
    cornchipcornchip Posts: 1,897member
    Wow. What a load of bologna. 
    williamlondonwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 10 of 16
    larrya said:

    I didn’t need to be educated about how batteries work. I needed Apple to disclose that they radically changed my phone’s performance characteristics, and I deserved to be a party to that decision. 
    Clearly you do, or you would have recognized the batt was at the ragged edge of its performance and replaced it already!
    williamlondonwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 11 of 16
    "Bull. Chips have always been throttled for heat or for battery"   If anyone artificially throttled your device to encourage you to buy new "much faster" models isn't that an issue?  Also $113M might sound like a lot to us, it's nothing to Apple who's profits in 2020, so far, is over $57Billion.  And that's the money they made after running costs and taxes.  $113M isn't even 1% of their profits it's not even 0.5%.  It's such a small fine that Apple can just consider that a business expense and keep doing business they way they have been. 
    williamlondonmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 12 of 16
    larrya said:

    I didn’t need to be educated about how batteries work. I needed Apple to disclose that they radically changed my phone’s performance characteristics, and I deserved to be a party to that decision. 
    Clearly you do, or you would have recognized the batt was at the ragged edge of its performance and replaced it already!
    How would someone know their battery has lost a significant amount of capacity if the phone still got the same battery life as it did when it was new?
    williamlondonmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 13 of 16
    jas99 said:
    I’m still extremely surprised that Apple wasn’t able to overcome the gross lack of understanding that went into the criticism, lawsuit, and final ruling. Apple decided to give users optimal performance when their battery aged, making it less necessity replace the device. The intent and outcome was the polar opposite of what they were accused and convicted of doing. So many people are so stupid. 
    How is reduced performance "optimal"?  People couldn't tell the batteries in their phones were losing capacity because they still held a charge as long as they did when they were new.  People who picked up a new phone at an Apple store would think the new iphones were that much faster than their current phone without realizing the performance of their phone was being suppressed without their knowledge.  I don't see how people are siding with Apple at all.  What has Apple done for you?  Do you really think Apple cares about you?  They are a trillion dollar business, they'd rather sell a few overpriced devices than sell devices to everyone at much smaller margins. 
    williamlondonmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 14 of 16
    dewmedewme Posts: 4,176member
    Bobbypdue said:
    jas99 said:
    I’m still extremely surprised that Apple wasn’t able to overcome the gross lack of understanding that went into the criticism, lawsuit, and final ruling. Apple decided to give users optimal performance when their battery aged, making it less necessity replace the device. The intent and outcome was the polar opposite of what they were accused and convicted of doing. So many people are so stupid. 
    How is reduced performance "optimal"?  People couldn't tell the batteries in their phones were losing capacity because they still held a charge as long as they did when they were new.  People who picked up a new phone at an Apple store would think the new iphones were that much faster than their current phone without realizing the performance of their phone was being suppressed without their knowledge.  I don't see how people are siding with Apple at all.  What has Apple done for you?  Do you really think Apple cares about you?  They are a trillion dollar business, they'd rather sell a few overpriced devices than sell devices to everyone at much smaller margins. 
    Apple was trying to improve the Availability of their phones by falling back into a degraded mode of operation that would allow the phone to continue to operate rather than crashing under the conditions they were dealing with. From an engineering standpoint, and especially for an engineering team focused on delivering high availability solutions, everything they did was justified and honorable - at an engineering level. If this was a combat system, web server, power utility, or any other system that was expected to deliver continuous availability, even in a degraded manner during periods of overload or in the presence of failures, the beneficiaries of their high-availability would be applauding their diligence and proactive approach. As an engineer, I'd say "well done Apple." But the resulting lawsuits say otherwise.

    Where Apple dropped the ball on this is on the communication. Even as an engineer I want to know when my device has entered a degraded mode of operation, along with guidance about what I need to do about it. If Apple had popped up a warning that my phone was running in a degraded manner because the battery was overloaded or lacking capacity along with instructions to seek out a service appointment at my earliest convenience the outcome would have been a whole lot better for Apple. At least I would know that something was wrong with my phone and that I could continue to use it at a lower level of performance until I could get it in for service. Limping home is better than being stranded.

    It's too bad that Apple has to pay such a high penalty for a communication shortcoming. I truly believe that most other companies would not have been judged so harshly for what was a well intentioned reaction to a problem. Apple obviously didn't want to strand their customers with no service. But once the lawyers step in and public pressure to "make someone else (with deep pockets) pay" gets ratcheted up this is where we are. I hope Apple learns from this experience, especially those engineers who too often develop a siloed mentality that isolates them from swaths of customers who don't see the world in exactly the same way that they see the world. Empathy isn't sympathy, it's a critical facet of knowledge acquisition and discovery. Apple's engineers came up a little short on in it this time, so now they get to pay for a remedial lesson.
    williamlondondbvaporwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 16
    On the topic of planned obsolescence..  I still think Apple intentionally made the iPhone X camera garbage just so they could bring out the iPhone XS the next year.  The camera itself wasn’t garbage but it overexposed EVERYTHING.  Why wasn’t that fixed via software update?  It’s a metering issue that could totally have been fixed in software, couldn’t it?  It was the only thing that made me want to upgrade, I waited for 11 Pro, but I rarely used my camera for anything “nice”.  So lame. I do believe Apple is guilty of planned obsolescence.  
  • Reply 16 of 16
    Bobbypdue said:
    jas99 said:
    I’m still extremely surprised that Apple wasn’t able to overcome the gross lack of understanding that went into the criticism, lawsuit, and final ruling. Apple decided to give users optimal performance when their battery aged, making it less necessity replace the device. The intent and outcome was the polar opposite of what they were accused and convicted of doing. So many people are so stupid. 
    How is reduced performance "optimal"?  People couldn't tell the batteries in their phones were losing capacity because they still held a charge as long as they did when they were new.  People who picked up a new phone at an Apple store would think the new iphones were that much faster than their current phone without realizing the performance of their phone was being suppressed without their knowledge.  I don't see how people are siding with Apple at all.  What has Apple done for you?  Do you really think Apple cares about you?  They are a trillion dollar business, they'd rather sell a few overpriced devices than sell devices to everyone at much smaller margins. 
    The bulk of "Support Apple at ANY cost" posters in this forum are Apple "stock holders". So you can understand why many of them post in that way. BUT, there are few posters who take a balanced approach. They take the customer point of view while posting even though they hold many Apple shares. If you read the comments in this forum for a few weeks, you will easily figure this out.
    williamlondon
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