Apple apologises for slowing down iPhone as it vows to slash the price of replacement batteries
Apple has apologised for slowing down older iPhones and cut the price of battery replacements, although claimed it has "never – and would never – do anything to intentionally shorten" the life of its products.
The tech giant is facing a number of legal challenges since last week revealing that a software update slows down the iPhone 6, 6s, 7 and SE models when their batteries wear down over time.
In a letter on Thursday evening, Apple said it was aware some of its customers "feel Apple has let you down" and apologised.
Users have long suspected that Apple slows down older iPhones, but the company admitted it last week when a tester found performance slowing down when a battery degrades. While Apple says it does this to make the phones last longer, consumers have claimed it is a tactic to encourage upgrades, and have criticised the company for not coming clean about it.
Apple said there had "been a lot of misunderstanding about this issue", in its letter, adding it had not been seeking to "degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades".
Instead Apple claimed its batteries became "less effective" as they chemically aged and this reduced their ability to hold a charge. This could be affected by the time and number of times a battery had been charged as well as the temperature of the environment in which an iPhone is being charged
However, in order to "regain the trust of anyone who may have doubted Apple’s intentions", Apple said it has decided to reduce the price of out-of-warranty battery replacements from $79 to $29 and would also be introducing new software features to allow users to track their battery performance better.
It said these changes would take place next year.
The olive branch came as the number of lawsuits filed against Apple mounted, the most recent being criminal claims in France.
Campaign group Halte a l’Obsolescence Programmée association (HOP) said it had filed a complaint against the company, claiming that purposefully reducing the performance of older models of the iPhone was illegal and in breach of France’s “planned obsolescence” laws.
Under regulations introduced in 2015, companies cannot sell items that are designed to fail over time. The HOP said breaching the law could mean jail sentences of up to two years for executives, and fines of up to €300,000 as well as 5pc of a company’s turnover.
“It is our mission to defend consumers and the environment against this waste organised by Apple,” said Laetitia Vasseur of HOP.
Apple already faces lawsuits in the US and Israel but this is the first attempt at criminal claims. It is up to French prosecutors to decide if the lawsuit is legitimate enough to take forward.
On Thursday, the French economy ministry opened a probe into the Epson after a previous complaint from the HOP claiming the printer maker was tricking consumers into replacing ink cartridges before they had run out.
If successful it could lead to the first prosecution under the “Hamon law” legislation, passed by the Socialist politician.