Apple hit with lawsuit over iPhone liquid contact indicators

invisibleSHIELD case for iPad“Apple on Thursday was sued for denying warranty service to its iPod and iPhone customers based on data supplied by allegedly inaccurate liquid sensors,” Thomas Claburn reports for InformationWeek. Apple began including liquid contact indicators (LCI) in its iPods and iPhones in 2007 and also added them to its MacBook and MacBook Pro computers in 2008.”

“The company uses these sensors to determine the eligibility of devices for repair under warranty,” Claburn reports. “Devices brought in for service that have been damaged by water or some other liquid are not covered by Apple’s one-year limited warranty or the company’s AppleCare Protection Plan.”

Claburn reports, “The lawsuit filed last week alleges that Apple ‘uses [the LCIs’] false-positive readings to avoid its [warranty] obligations…'”

“The plaintiff in the case, San Francisco resident Charlene Gallion, had two iPhones cease functioning in the space of six months, neither of which, her complaint claims, had been damaged by any liquid… The complaint says that Gallion brought an iPhone in to an Apple store for repair and was denied warranty coverage because the Apple representative determined the device had been damaged by liquid,” Claburn reports. “Gallion insisted that her iPhone had not been damaged by exposure to liquid, but had no way to challenge the determination of water damage made by Apple’s representative.”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]


  1. Unless she can prove that the LCI is activated falsely, she has no case.

    Apple warranty is not obliged to cover accidents.

    Apple will allow users to buy a new phone that was accidentally damaged beyond warranty for the subsidized telco price.

  2. Same thing happened to me with a different phone. Nearest I could figure was that I kept it in my pants pocket which got humid due to some sweat ( it was summer) or due to some rain. But it was never exposed to water directly.

  3. It happened to me with an iPhone.
    The iPhone has two humidity sensors. It’s like their looking for an excuse.

    In any case (no pun intended) the case should be redesigned to be more water, (or moisture) resistant.

  4. Humidity in the air isn’t necessarily a ‘false positive’. It is a legitimate positive. Electronics specs will limit the allowable humidity a device can operate in. Ms. Gallion may have taken her iPod into a steamroom or showerstall to listen to a podcast.

  5. @Truth, not to the internal indicators. Apple, from what I hear from a close Genius friend of mine, requires that both of the external indicators tripped, or one external and one or both of the internals to be tripped before counting it out of warranty now.

    Frankly, I don’t blame them. LCI may not be 100%, but the chance of those internal indicators being tripped by the air is zero.

  6. @Spark,

    I would NOT be shocked if that happened. Many people at the gym will take the ipod anywhere. I seen someone take their tiny ipod into the steam room once.. I was like..”is he an idiot?”

  7. I have to believe that Apple’s engineers understand that cell phones are carried and used in the rain, snow, sweat and condensation. I due not try to use them in the rain but I am sure that all 4 in my house have gotten wet. If it is not sealed, that Apple has a design problem, not the customer’s problem.

  8. I know a guy who dropped his iPhone in water and then took it to the Apple Store and swore up and down he didn’t. They denied his claim because of the indicator. In my opinion, he attempted criminal fraud, but he feels there was no harm in trying. Murky moral world we live in.

    He went back bought another iPhone.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.