Apple under investigation by DOJ, SEC over iPhone slowdowns: Report

The government is requesting additional information from Apple over a disclosure that it slows down older iPhones, according to Bloomberg.
Written by Jake Smith, Contributor
Image: Sarah Tew/CNET

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are investigating Apple to determine if it violated securities laws when disclosing that it slows down performance on older iPhones to prolong battery life.

According to Bloomberg, the inquiry is in its early stages. The government has reportedly requested information from Apple and wants to determine if it misled investors about the performance of older iPhones by not telling them.

DOJ and SEC spokespersons declined requests for comment. We also reached out to Apple for comment, and will update you if we hear back.

Apple issued an apology in December for what it called a misunderstanding of how it handles performance for iPhones with older batteries. In a letter, Apple told customers that is has never done anything to "intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrade."

Apple said it began the practice when it released iOS 10.2.1 last year, to stop the iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, and iPhone SE from shutting down from troubling power circumstances like cold weather, low battery charge or battery aging. In an attempt to remedy the situation, Apple discounted the price of out-of-warranty iPhone battery replacement to $29 (down from $79).

Senator John Thune, chairman of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, asked Apple CEO Tim Cook earlier this month if the company made an effort to notify customers that their batteries were being slowed down and if customers had the ability to decline the update. Government agencies worldwide have also criticized Apple for violating consumers' rights and launched investigations.

Apple says an update will be released later this year that shows the health of an iPhone's battery. Additionally, users will be able to see whether an existing power management feature is turned on, and then turn it off if they choose.

Bloomberg also reported Tuesday that Apple is mulling pushing back some features planned for this fall's iOS 12 update to instead focus on quality issues.

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