GOP senator presses Apple on phone slowdowns

GOP senator presses Apple on phone slowdowns
© Greg Nash

Apple is facing questions from a top Republican senator about its practice of slowing down older iPhones with aging batteries after stirring controversy last month when it revealed the practice.

Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Chairman John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneMcConnell: Mueller 'ought to wrap it up' Graham jokes about Corker: GOP would have to be organized to be a cult Ernst, Fischer to square off for leadership post MORE (R-S.D.) pressed Apple to answer questions on the matter in a letter he sent Tuesday to Apple CEO Tim Cook.

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Thune asks if Apple throttles iPhones older than the iPhone 6 and 6S as they age, if the company has tracked consumer complaints about the slowed performance and if Apple would offer rebates to those who already purchased new batteries before the company started offering discounted rates.

Apple frustrated consumers last month when it admitted it slows down the performance of iPhone 6 and 6S to help the phones preserve battery life as they age. The company’s admission came after a study in December concluded Apple was intentionally slowing down iPhones.

The public has long speculated Apple intentionally reduced the performance of iPhones as part of a “planned obsolescence” plot to get consumers to purchase new phones with each update.

Apple says the slowdowns are to save battery life and not to encourage consumers to buy new equipment.

Thune questioned Apple’s handling of the situation.

“Even if Apple’s actions were indeed only to avoid unexpected shutdowns in older phones, the large volume of consumer criticism leveled against the company in light of its admission suggests that there should have been better transparency with respect these practices,” he wrote.

In an apology letter about its practices, issued at the end of December, the company said it would offer a $29 battery replacement to iPhone 6 and 6S users, down from its normal $79 price.

Thune’s letter suggests this apology has not quelled his concerns.

“Apple’s proposed solutions have prompted additional criticism from some customers, particularly its decision not to provide free replacement batteries,” Thune wrote.