Apple chief executive Tim Cook apologized to customers Thursday for not being clear that the company slows down phones with aging batteries. Cook promised that, in the future, Apple will “give users more visibility into the health of their iPhone’s battery” and let people see if their battery’s age affects their phone’s performance.
Apple is offering a discount on battery replacements to anyone with an iPhone 6 or later, the company said in a statement. A replacement will now cost $29 instead of $79 starting in late January 2018. The cheaper price is more in line with third-party repair shops.
While Cook’s message was apologetic, he still rejected allegations that Apple slowed down phones with older batteries as a way to push people into buying new phones. “First and foremost, we have never – and would never – do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades,” he said.
The company said previously that unless it reduces the performance of its phones, the older batteries run a higher risk of spontaneously shutting down. This explanation makes technical sense, many experts have said.
Apple’s disclosure last week that it slows down phones has sparked much criticism and a string of lawsuits. A French consumer rights group filed a suit on Dec. 27 that accuses Apple of degrading its old phones in order to sell new ones. In France, it’s illegal to degrade old products to promote the sale of new ones, meaning that the suit filed in France by the group Halte à l’Obsolescence Programmee is the only lawsuit that carries the possibility of up to two years in prison.
The group, which lays out its case in an online statement, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It has also previously sued printer companies including Epson over claims that they violate the same law. The printer case is currently under investigation.
Apple also faces at least eight lawsuits from iPhone owners in places including California, New York, New Jersey and even Israel that claim Apple owes its customers money for not previously disclosing the slowdowns. The suits ask the company to pay iPhone owners varying amounts. One California suit seeks nearly $1 trillion in damages.