Apple. Picture: REUTERS
Apple. Picture: REUTERS

Washington — The chairman of a US senate committee overseeing business issues has asked Apple to answer questions about its disclosure that it slowed older iPhones with flagging batteries.

The California-based company apologised over the issue on December 28, cut battery replacement costs and said it would change its software to show users whether their phone battery was performing at optimal levels.

Senator John Thune, who chairs the commerce, science and transportation committee, said in a January 9 letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook that "the large volume of consumer criticism levelled against the company in light of its admission suggests that there should have been better transparency".

Apple said it would cut the price of a replacement for an out-of-warranty battery to $29 from $79 for an iPhone 6 or later. The company will also update its iOS operating system so users can see whether the battery is in poor condition and affecting the phone’s performance.

Thune asked if Apple considered making free battery replacements available or if it had explored offering rebates for customers who paid full price for replacement batteries.

He also wanted to know if Apple had notified consumers of the throttling feature in software updates, which slows the phone, and if customers had the option of declining the update. He also asked if similar software was used in earlier iPhone models.

An Apple spokesman did not respond to a request for comment early on Wednesday.

In December, Apple said: "We know that some of you feel Apple has let you down. We apologise."

The company acknowledged earlier in the month that iPhone software could slow down some phones with battery problems. Apple said ageing lithium batteries delivered power unevenly, which could cause iPhones to shut down unexpectedly to protect circuits inside.

Lawsuits have been filed in California, New York and Illinois, alleging the firm defrauded users by slowing down devices without warning. The company also faces a legal complaint in France, where so-called planned obsolesce is against the law.


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