WASHINGTON, D.C. – Attorney General Karl A. Racine today announced that Apple will pay the District nearly $2.7 million as part of a $113 million multistate settlement for intentionally slowing down or “throttling” the performance of iPhone devices to cover up battery problems. Thirty four Attorneys General alleged that Apple deceived consumers about battery defects that caused some iPhones to unexpectedly shut off and used software updates that slowed phone performance to continue concealing the issue. The battery problems and performance throttling affected devices sold from 2014 to 2018. Under a consent judgment, Apple is required to provide clear and truthful information to consumers about battery life and health and to notify them if future software updates affect device performance. Apple also recently settled a class action lawsuit related to this conduct and will pay up to $500 million to affected consumers as part of that settlement.
“Apple intentionally slowed down the performance of iPhones to conceal battery defects instead of disclosing the problem to millions of consumers nationwide,” said AG Racine. “This settlement should remind companies that they have a legal responsibility to provide clear and truthful information to their customers and to treat them fairly. When businesses do not live up to their obligations and violate consumer protection laws, state Attorneys General will hold them accountable.”
Apple is the largest public company in the United States. It consistently advertised its iPhones as premium products, with an emphasis on speed, performance, and battery life.
Following a multistate investigation, Attorneys General alleged that Apple learned that battery issues were causing iPhones to turn off unexpectedly as early as 2012. Rather than disclosing the issues and replacing defective batteries, Apple hid this information from consumers. In January 2017, the company publicly released a software update that reduced iPhone performance to keep devices from unexpectedly shutting down. This and subsequent updates throttled iPhone performance on the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6S, 6S Plus, first-generation SE, 7 and 7 Plus. The Attorneys General also allege that Apple profited from intentionally slowing iPhones by selling millions of new devices to consumers who wanted improved performance from their phones.
The states alleged that Apple’s misrepresentations and deception about battery life, device performance, and software updates were unfair and deceptive, and that Apple’s conduct violated state consumer protection laws, including the District’s Consumer Protection Procedures Act (CPPA). The CPPA prohibits a wide variety of deceptive business practices.
Under the terms of the consent judgment, Apple must:
- Pay nearly $2.7 million to the District: Apple agreed to pay the participating states and the District a total of $113 million. The District’s share totals $2,698,250.29.
- Provide truthful and clear information to consumers: Apple must provide truthful information about iPhone battery health, performance, and power management to consumers. Under the terms of the settlement, Apple must provide this information on its website, in update installation notes, and in the iPhone user interface itself. It must also provide guidance on steps consumers can take to maximize battery health.
- Notify consumers if updates will change phone performance: If future updates will impact phone performance, Apple must clearly and conspicuously notify consumers of those changes before they install the update.
The multistate group was led by the Attorneys General of Arizona, Arkansas, and Indiana, and was joined by the District of Columbia as well as Alaska, California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
A copy of the complaint is available at: https://oag.dc.gov/sites/default/files/2020-11/DCvAPPLE-complaint.pdf
A copy of the consent judgment is available at: https://oag.dc.gov/sites/default/files/2020-11/DCvAPPLE-judgment.pdf
Recently, Apple also a settled class action litigation related to these issues and will pay up to $500 million in consumer restitution. Consumers whose devices were affected have previously received notification about how to submit a claim.
Submit a Consumer Complaint
Consumers who have been the victims of unfair or deceptive business practices can file a complaint by calling (202) 442-9828, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or filling out a consumer complaint form online.