Apple Considers Rebates for Some iPhone Battery Replacements


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responding to U.S. Senate questions about its decision to slow performance on older iPhones, said it is considering rebates for battery replacements for some users affected by the issue.

In a letter to the Senate Commerce Committee made public Tuesday, Apple said it may offer the rebates to customers who replaced their iPhone batteries before it slashed replacement fees by $50 late last year to address rising customer complaints about a software update that slowed the performance of older iPhones.

The letter, dated Feb. 2, is the latest indication that Apple continues to look for ways to improve its response to the iPhone slowdown after scrutiny from customers and regulators. The letter was sent in response to a questions sent to Apple last month by

Sen. John Thune

(R., S.D.), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, who asked Apple, among other things, if it would consider providing rebates.

In December, Apple said it had throttled back the performance of older iPhones to prevent devices from automatically powering off because of weak batteries. Some customers and analysts speculated that Apple was using the slowdown to pressure people to buy newer iPhones.

Apple is facing probes over potential security violations in its handling of the issue from the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission, as well as investigations in Europe and questions from at least one consumer group in China.

The tech giant has apologized for how it handled the issue, and said that it would never intentionally shorten the life of its products or degrade performance to drive customers to upgrade. The company slashed the price of an iPhone battery replacement to $29 from $79.​​

Apple declined to comment Tuesday about when it will make a final decision about rebates for customers who replaced older batteries before that price cut. ​

Apple’s critics have questioned how and when it notified customers of the software update.

In its letter, Apple laid out the timeline for the software update last year that triggered customer complaints. The company said it made the update in January in the software update iOS 10.2.1 to address spontaneous shutdowns of some older iPhone devices. After evaluating the change’s effectiveness, Apple said, it publicly disclosed the change in February with a note describing how the update “improves power management during peak workloads to avoid unexpected shutdowns.” The company said it also discussed the change with several media outlets.

Apple’s letter left some questions unclear. It didn’t respond in detail to specific questions concerning how many customers have complained to Apple about the slowdown.

The company also was vague about whether it had used similar performance-management software with previous generations of iPhones. The company said only that those phones “have different system power demands” and “did not experience the same issues.”

Write to Tripp Mickle at Tripp.Mickle@wsj.com and John D. McKinnon at john.mckinnon@wsj.com

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