Italy consumer association sues Apple for planned iPhone obsolescence

Italian consumer association Altroconsumo said on Monday it had told Apple it has launched a class action against the U.S. tech giant for the practice of planned obsolescence.

In a statement Altroconsumo said it was asking for damages of 60 million euros ($73 million) on behalf of Italian consumers tricked by the practice which had also been recognised by Italian authorities.

Altroconsumo said the lawsuit covers owners of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, 6S and 6S Plus, sales of which in Italy totalled some 1 million phones between 2014 and 2020.

Apple said in an email that it had never done anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades.

Two similar lawsuits against Apple have been filed in Belgium and Spain for the planned obsolescence of iPhones.

European consumer association Euroconsumers, which is coordinating the three lawsuits, said it was also planning to launch a class action in Portugal in the coming weeks.

By: Kwamed2k

Apple may bring back Touch ID for next year’s iPhone

Apple is reportedly mulling bringing Touch ID back to iPhones.

The Silicon Valley giant signed the death warrant for the fingerprint sensor in 2017 as it began phasing out the home button in its flagship handsets, but is now testing a version of Touch ID that will live under the iPhone’s display, Bloomberg reports.

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Face ID was massively popular when it was introduced, but has irked users over the past year as they have been forced to wear masks during the coronavirus pandemic. The company previously updated its software to allow users to more quickly enter their passcodes.

The next generation of iPhones wouldn’t ditch Face ID however, instead giving users the option of how they’d like to unlock their phones. Apple recently built Touch ID into the iPad Air’s wake button.

Apple is also considering eliminating the charging port entirely in upcoming iPhones, which would allow the devices to only refill their batteries through wireless charging.

Italy fines Apple €10m over iPhone water-resistance claims

Italy has fined Apple €10m (£9m) for misleading claims about the iPhone’s water resistance.

The national competition authority, AGCM, found Apple’s claims did not hold up under real-world conditions.

Instead, the water resistance claims were valid only with pure water in laboratory conditions.

AGCM also said Apple not covering water damage under warranty, despite claims of water resistance, was an “aggressive” practice.

The advertising at issue promised iPhones were water resistant at a depth of up to 4m (13ft) for 30 minutes.

The claim was made for a range of phones across several years, from the iPhone 8 to the iPhone 11 and their variations.

And it was not made clear this was true under tightly controlled conditions only, the authority found.

It ruled the advertising – which showed iPhones coming into contact with water – was misleading.

Apple has always advised against swimming or bathing with the iPhone, in its small print, which also says liquid damage is not covered by its warranty.

But the Italian authority also ruled the lack of warranty coverage for water damage broke articles 24 and 25 of the consumer code – on “aggressive commercial practices” and “coercion or undue influence”.

AGCM objected to the fact the guarantee did not apply to something so heavily marketed as a feature. 

But it also said the small print of Apple’s manufacturer guarantee could not be used to circumvent its basic obligations when a product did not perform as advertised. 

Apple was fined €5m for each of the two infractions. 

It has not responded to a request for comment.

Apple to pay $113m to settle iPhone ‘batterygate’

Apple will pay $113m (£85m) to settle allegations that it slowed down older iPhones.

Thirty-three US states claimed that Apple had done this to drive users into buying new devices.

Millions of people were affected when the models of iPhone 6 and 7 and SE were slowed down in 2016 in a scandal that was dubbed batterygate. 

Apple declined to comment, however, it has previously said the phones were slowed to preserve aging battery life. 

The deal is separate from a proposed settlement Apple reached in March to pay affected iPhone owners up to $500m in a class action lawsuit.

In 2016 Apple updated software on models of the iPhone 6, 7 and SE – which throttled chip speeds on aging phones. 

Unusual slowdowns

Apple acknowledged its update reduced power demands after researchers found unusual slowdowns in 2017.

The states argued that Apple had acted deceptively and should have replaced batteries or disclosed the issue.

According to an Arizona filing, millions of users were affected by power shutoffs.

Apple denies that the slowdown was for financial gain. 

But Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich wrote in a court document made public on Wednesday: “Many consumers decided that the only way to get improved performance was to purchase a newer-model iPhone from Apple. 

“Apple, of course, fully understood such effects on sales.”

Under the settlement, Apple did not admit to any wrongdoing or breaking any law.

The tech titan also agreed for the next three years to provide “truthful information” about iPhone power management across its website, software update notes and iPhone settings. 

The settlement comes after a series of other allegations against Apple. 

It is currently locked in a legal battle with Epic Games – amid accusations the iPhone-maker uses its stranglehold over its App Store to unfairly charge developers.

Source: James Clayton
North America technology reporter