U.S. Government Official Questions Apple Over iPhone Battery Slowdowns

Just two days after it emerged a French consumer fraud group is investigating Apple over its handling of battery-related performance issues on iPhones, Apple is now facing questions from government officials in its own country over the controversy.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that Senator John Thune (R–S.D.), chairman of the Commerce Committee, has sent a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook asking a series of questions about how the company decided to throttle processing performance in iPhones with older batteries.

In a letter to Chief Executive Tim Cook, a copy of which was viewed by The Wall Street Journal, Thune asked how Apple has tracked customer complaints of processing performance, and if Apple has explored offering rebates to customers who paid full price for a battery replacement before the company offered discounted rates last month.

In the letter, Thune went on to note that Apple’s decision to offer battery replacements at a reduced price had prompted further criticism from customers who believe that Apple should have offered the replacements for free.

In addition to the senator’s letter, Wednesday’s WSJ report included official confirmation from the Paris prosecutor’s office that it is overseeing an investigation into Apple’s “alleged deception” that is being conducted by French consumer fraud group DGCCRF, which is part of the country’s economy ministry.

The investigation – which could lead to preliminary charges or be dropped – follows Apple’s admission that it slows down some older iPhones with degraded batteries during times of peak power usage in order to prevent unexpected shutdowns. Apple introduced the power management feature in iOS 10.2.1 after complaints of unexpected shutdowns in the iPhone 6s, but the company didn’t make it clear to consumers that it was due to battery deterioration, nor did Apple inform customers that it could cause occasional performance slowdowns.

Despite Apple’s apology and its efforts to correct the issue, in addition to the French inquiry, the company is now facing more than two dozen lawsuits accusing it of intentionally slowing down older iPhones and failing to disclose the changes that it introduced in iOS 10.2.1. One of those lawsuits also stems from France, filed by French consumer group “HOP”, which translates to “Stop Planned Obsolescence”.


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