US authorities investigating Apple for iPhone slowdown

31 Jan 2018

Apple iPhone 7. Image: Anna Hoychuck/Shutterstock

Apple’s battery scandal woes show no sign of abating.

At the very end of 2017, Apple admitted to the world that it slowed the performance of certain iPhones, maintaining that it was done to prevent battery issues and random shutdowns of handsets. Since then, the company has offered reduced-price replacement batteries for certain models and apologised to users for its lack of transparency.

A series of lawsuits, including one in France, are underway and now the US Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission are to investigate the issue.

US authorities examining the controversy

According to a Bloomberg report, the US government has put in a request for information from the tech behemoth and the inquiry is in the early stages. At this point, it is too soon to draw any conclusions in terms of possible enforcement that could follow the investigation.

Apple confirmed it had been contacted by officials from the US government and said it was cooperating fully by answering the questions supplied. A spokesperson for Apple also emphasised the company’s position that it would never do anything to intentionally cut the lifespan of a product short to drive sales of new devices.

The investigation is by no means a sign that Apple definitely did something wrong, more so an examination as to whether anything underhanded occurred at all.

New update will provide improved transparency

The slowdown of iPhones was introduced in a software update and Apple has said it will still be included in future updates. The company did assure users that it would be including a more transparent and user-friendly set of battery-health tools soon.

CEO Tim Cook said the new update is “going to give people the visibility of the health of their battery so it’s very, very transparent. This hasn’t been done before.” Users will be able to turn off the performance limitation option, but it’s a course of action the company doesn’t recommend.

Apple apologised for the slowdown in a statement on 28 December, citing a lack of clarity on its part. “We know that some of you feel Apple has let you down. We apologise. There’s been a lot of misunderstanding about this issue, so we would like to clarify and let you know about some changes we’re making.”

Apple iPhone 7. Image: Anna Hoychuck/Shutterstock

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects