US authorities said to launch Apple battery inquiry

News comes several weeks after Apple admitted to slowing down the performance of older iPhones

(FILES) This file photo taken on September 14, 2016 shows the Apple logo at the entrance to the Fifth Avenue Apple store in New York.
Apple announced January 17, 2018 it would pay some $38 billion in taxes -- likely the largest payment of its kind -- on profits repatriated from overseas as it boosts investments in the United States.The iPhone maker said in a statement it plans to use some of its foreign cash stockpile of more than $250 billion, which qualifies for reduced tax rates under a recent bill, to invest in new projects, with estimated investments of $75 billion in the US. / AFP PHOTO / Don EMMERT
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The US Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are investigating whether Apple violated securities laws concerning its disclosures about a software update that slowed older iPhone models, according to people familiar with the matter.

The government has requested information from the company, according to the people, who asked not to be named because the inquiry is private. It is in early stages, they cautioned, and it’s too soon to conclude any enforcement will follow.

Spokesmen for Apple and the government didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The news comes several weeks after Apple admitted to slowing down the performance of older iPhones models as a way to make their internal batteries last longer. Apple released a software update early in 2017 to start throttling older iPhones, but didn’t specify that the action slowed the devices. In December, Apple apologised for not communicating this information and vowed to release another update to mitigate the concern.

The slowdowns only occur when the iPhone’s battery reaches a certain, unspecified point of low health and can be fixed if a user replaces the old battery with a new one. As part of its public apology, Apple cut the prices of battery replacements in its stores to $29, a $50 discount.

Apple plans to release an iPhone software update, called iOS 11.3, in the spring with new features that allow users to monitor the health of their batteries and protect against slowdowns. If consumers turn off the throttling, older iPhones will be more prone to randomly rebooting, Apple has said.


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Apple apologises for secretly slowing older iPhones

Apple admits it slows older devices' performance


The system affects iPhone 7 models and older, but not the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, according to the company.

After apologising to customers in December, Apple was sued by consumer advocacy groups and individual iPhone users in a global backlash. US government officials, including Senator John Thune have also questioned Apple about the slowdowns.

The situation is a self-inflicted black eye on the company. It 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. Apple is delaying some key iPhone and Mac software features planned for release this year to focus on quality improvements, Bloomberg News reported earlier today.