For release on November 18, 2020
Supervising Deputy District Attorney
Consumer Protection Unit
Apple to Pay $24 Million in Prosecution Over iPhone Slowdown
Apple Inc. will pay $24.6 million in a case brought by California prosecutors that alleged the Big Tech giant violated state consumer protection laws when it failed to warn owners of older iPhones that processing speeds may be slowed down by certain software updates.
The Cupertino-based company reached the settlement with the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, as well as the California Attorney General’s Office, and the Alameda, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Santa Cruz County district attorney’s offices. The settlement is part of a nationwide effort, involving prosecutors from 33 other states, to hold Apple responsible for the 2017 iPhone slowdown.
District Attorney Jeff Rosen said, “Just like a patient needs to know the side effects before swallowing a pill, a consumer needs to know what they’re getting before clicking on a software update, especially when it could throttle their phone.”
The civil complaint, filed in Alameda County Superior Court, alleges that Apple engaged in an unlawful business practice by failing to timely and adequately disclose that its software updates slowed down the performance of older iPhones with aging batteries. The iPhones affected by these software updates included the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, first generation iPhone SE, iPhone 7, and iPhone 7 Plus.
In December 2017, nearly a year after sending out the software update in question, Apple released a statement apologizing for failing to adequately communicate with customers about the effects of the update. Apple acknowledged that the update had contained features intended to prevent unexpected shutdowns but caused some users to suffer longer launch times and other reductions in performance.
Apple cooperated with prosecutors during the investigation. Under the settlement terms, Apple did not admit violating the law but agreed to maintain easily accessible and prominent webpages that provide clear and conspicuous information to consumers about lithium-ion batteries, unexpected shutdowns, and the impact of the performance management features on the iPhone.
The Santa Clara County DA’s Office will use its $4.1 million share of the settlement to bolster its consumer protection efforts. A private class action case in federal court in San Jose has reached a tentative settlement which will pay restitution up to $500 million to consumers who were affected and submitted a valid claim.