Apple responds to report that the US government is investigating the iPhone slowdown

  • The United States DOJ and SEC are reportedly investigating an Apple software update with a power management feature that can slow down older iPhones.
  • Apple says it’s aware of government agencies asking questions and is responding to them.

Apple said in a statement on Wednesday that it was responding to government agencies asking questions about a 2017 iPhone software update that slowed down older phones.

The US Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission have started investigating Apple software updates because of the slowdown issue, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.

Apple says the reason for the software feature is to prevent unexpected iPhone shutdowns, not to encourage users to update to a newer iPhone. A phone with the feature turned on can take longer to launch apps and can display lower frame rates, but it’s also less likely to randomly reboot.

“As we told our customers in December, we have never – and would never – do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades,” Apple said in the statement. Some Apple fans believe that the company released the software update to get them to upgrade to newer iPhones, leading to lawsuits.

Apple explained in December that older batteries in some iPhone models, including the iPhone 6, 6S, and 7, can no longer meet peak power needs when they’re old or used. Apple has offered to replace any affected batteries for $US29, down from the company’s previous $US79 price.

Apple also plans to release a software update in the next few months that will show users their battery health and turn off the power management feature that could potentially slow down an older phone.

The purported investigations by the DOJ and the SEC wouldn’t be the first pushes for more information from Apple. Groups in both the Senate and the House of Representatives have questioned Apple, and the company faces more than 45 class-action lawsuits from consumers as well as international probes, too.

“We don’t confirm or deny investigations,” a representative for the Department of Justice said on Tuesday.

Read Apple’s full response:

About a year ago, we delivered a software update that improves power management during peak workloads to avoid unexpected shutdowns on certain iPhones with older batteries. We know that iPhones have become an important part of the daily lives of our customers and our intention was to improve the customer experience.

We sought to further improve the customer experience in December by announcing a significant discount on replacement batteries for certain iPhones. We also announced that we began developing a new iOS feature to show battery health and which would recommend when the user should consider replacing their battery. These actions were taken to further assist our customers and help extend the life of their iPhones. In addition, users will be able to see if the power management feature is being used to prevent unexpected shutdowns, and turn if off if they so choose. These features will be included in a developer release next month and a user release this Spring.

As we told our customers in December, we have never – and would never – do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades. Our goal has always been to create products that our customers love. Making iPhones last as long as possible is an important part of that.

We have received questions from some government agencies and we are responding to them.

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