U.S. DOJ and SEC probe Apple over updates that slow iPhones with aging batteries

“The U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating whether Apple Inc. violated securities laws concerning its disclosures about a software update that slowed older iPhone models, according to people familiar with the matter,” Tom Schoenberg, Matt Robinson, and Mark Gurman report for Bloomberg.

“The government has requested information from the company, according to the people, who asked not to be named because the probe is private. The inquiry is in early stages, they cautioned, and it’s too soon to conclude any enforcement will follow. Investigators are looking into public statements made by Apple on the situation, they added,” Schoenberg, Robinson, and Gurman report. “U.S. investigators are concerned that the company may have misled investors about the performance of older phones.”

“Several weeks ago, Apple said a software update released in early 2017 slowed down the performance of older iPhones models as a way to avoid the phones shutting down at random,” Schoenberg, Robinson, and Gurman report. When it released the update, the company hadn’t said the software would slow down the devices. In December, Apple apologized for not clearly communicating this information and vowed to release another update to mitigate the concern.””

“The situation is a self-inflicted black eye on the Cupertino, California-based company. Apple has been wrestling with some other software-related issues, including processor vulnerabilities that have affected other technology companies and a login flaw that allows intruders to access files on Mac computers without a passcode,” Schoenberg, Robinson, and Gurman report. Apple is delaying some key iPhone and Mac software features planned for release this year to focus on quality improvements, Bloomberg News reported earlier Tuesday.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: If Apple doesn’t learn a valuable lesson here about how to properly communicate with their customers, they never will.

As we wrote earlier this month:

You can see why some think that Apple wanted to keep what they were doing a secret. If people knew that a $79 battery replacement would give them an iPhone that performed like it did on day one, a meaningful percentage would take that option versus buying a new iPhone. Now that it’s just $29 this year, that percentage will naturally increase.

Then again, as Hanlon’s razor states: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

Apple’s made up of people. People are imperfect. We’ll take Apple’s word for it that they “always wanted… customers to be able to use their iPhones as long as possible” and that they “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.”

Again, it’s Apple’s lack of communication that is the problem here. If Apple had clearly explained what was going on in the software, we’d know to recommend a battery replacement when users complained their older iPhones were getting “slow.” As it was, we were pretty much left to assume that the processor/RAM wasn’t up to par with demands of newer iOS releases and we’d naturally recommend getting a new iPhone.

Just yesterday, we had a friend complain that his iPhone 6 was acting “slow” and we knew to recommend a battery replacement (even though he instead opted to get himself an iPhone X on our strong recommendation).MacDailyNews, December 29, 2017

As has almost always been the case with Apple, unfortunately, transparency comes later, not sooner, and usually as a reaction to negative publicity. A simple Knowledge Base article would have preempted all of this Reddit sleuthing and the attendant handwringing and erroneous presumptions.MacDailyNews, December 20, 2017

Apple should provide a toggle switch in Settings where users specify if they’d like to keep running at high processor speeds even if it means rapid shutdowns or if they’d like to run at lower processors speeds to accommodate an aging battery that requires replacement.MacDailyNews, December 27, 2017

Apple previews iOS 11.3 with new battery health features, ability to turn processor throttling on and off, and more – January 24, 2018
Tim Cook: ‘Maybe we should have been clearer’ over throttling iPhones with aging batteries – January 18, 2018
China consumer group seeks answers from Apple over batterygate – January 16, 2018
South Korean consumer group considering criminal case against Apple over iPhone batterygate – January 11, 2018
French prosecutor launches probe into Apple planned obsolescence – January 8, 2018
Apple’s design decisions and iPhone batteries – January 8, 2018
Apple now faces over two dozen lawsuits for ‘purposefully’ or ‘secretly’ slowing down older iPhones – January 5, 2018
Why aging batteries don’t slow down Android phones like Apple iPhones – January 5, 2018
Apple’s $29 replacement batteries expected to hurt new iPhone sales – January 4, 2018
How to see if Apple’s throttling your iPhone – January 4, 2018
Brazilian agency requires Apple to inform consumers on batteries – January 3, 2018
Analyst: Apple’s ‘batterygate’ solution may mean 16 million fewer iPhones sold this year – January 3, 2018
An Apple conspiracy theory blooms – January 2, 2018
Apple clarifies policy on $29 battery replacements: All iPhone 6 and later devices are eligible – January 2, 2018


  1. In case people forget, the iPhone is foremost a PHONE!
    If the software does 500 other things while killing phone performance then maybe Apple did the right thing but in their usual “we’re so cool we can do anything and just let people figure it out” style.

  2. What a crock of $***. The SEC and DoJ can’t be bothered to actually do what they’re supposed to, investigate the rampant and long term manipulation of Apple and other stocks despite a former manipulator, Cramer, giving a freak’n “how to” course on national tv, eg pay/influence/lie to lackey complicit press (who will sell their useless souls and their own mothers organs for $3 more of clicks):

    Instead, the 100,000 dead weight, tax-payer-money-wasters, is excuse for employees, find bs non-issues that they can posture and virtue pose as an audition for their next parasitic political position. Yea, apples sale of $7.58 of ebooks was clearly a clear and present danger to Amazon’s defectors monopoly. To call them stupid wastes is a huge insult to stupid wastes.

    Both those abject failure agencies should be shutdown. They’re not just wastes of money with just idiot staffed enclaves for where losers in life are drawn by its loser magnetic field, they actually achieve the opposite of their intended purpose (ie killing competition and handing over power to amazon monopoly is just so profoundly densely stupid, it’s created an event horizon).

    I’d fart in their general direction, but it would actually improve their stank station.

    They, and their “investigations” would be giant jokes if we weren’t footing the bill.

  3. I would like Tim Cook to issue an open letter to the citizens of the US stating that Apple is reconsidering the idea of investing $350 billion in America based on the recent investigation of its practices by a government that 1) allows its IRS to use secret means to attack groups the administration doesn’t like 2) can’t oversee the FBI and DOJ agents who manufacture evidence to overturn an election they don’t like, 3) has a Congress that has not completed a budget in 10 years, instead using continuing resolutions to blackmail all politicians to pass this or the government shuts down 4) runs Medicare and Social Security which are both bankrupt and have no funds to pay for the promises they have made.

    The US Government has real nerve investigating Apple. How about we force every government employee to live by the laws normal Americans are saddled with and also the same pension and health care plans. After a decade of that maybe we give them a bit more respect.

  4. I am normally a diehard supporter of Apple, but in this case – Apple blew it.
    Including the feature WAS a good idea, but noting including an option to turn it off is inexcusable. Keeping it a secret and taking four months to write a fix is also not acceptable.

Reader Feedback

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