Apple’s battery scandal should serve as a wake-up call

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Throughout daily life, most US citizens are constantly battered by media coming from their televisions, computers, and most of all, their phones. The cell phone has become such a staple of popular culture and modern life across the world, and it’s a tool many rely on to make a living and get by in the world. However, technology isn’t without its flaws, and when these devices that we rely upon so heavily stop working, there’s sure to be an outburst from the public.

Recently the news has been flooded with word of Apple slowing down older phones due to their batteries. Previously, there had been rumors that such a problem existed, but without confirmation from Apple, consumers were left to speculate.

Seventeen-year-old Tyler Barney originally exposed the slowdown on Reddit, testing his phone with the original battery and a new one. Barney found his phone sped up significantly with the new battery, and his post about it quickly gained traction and spread across news sites. However, this discovery was closely accompanied by legal trouble. French prosecutors have recently launched an investigation into Apple over allegations that the phone slowdowns were deliberate. France is the third country to investigate Apple, but unlike the U.S. and Israel, France treats planned obsolescence as a crime.

The problem here does not lie in the fact that Apple slowed down phones with older batteries; the real problem is in the fact that the slowdown was not disclosed to consumers. People will continue to buy iPhones regardless of what Apple does, but these business practices show that corporations cannot always be trusted. If iPhone owners were notified that their phone was slowing down due to their battery, most would have happily bought a replacement. Apple has rectified this by now offering relatively cheap replacements at their stores; beforehand, replacements were only offered if the battery was “defective,” meaning that new batteries would not be given to users of phones suffering from the said problem.

Before battery replacements were available, consumers were stuck in the trap of buying a new phone if they wanted faster speeds. After their iPhone “goes bad,” they’re required to purchase the latest and greatest product from Apple to meet their expectations. It’s common knowledge that these phones rarely last for more than two or three years, but the fact that this problem stems from the battery should infuriate iPhone owners. Instead of a simple $29 battery replacement fee, most customers coughed up a couple hundred dollars for a new iPhone. Can they be blamed?

The average person would have never assumed that their phone’s slowdown was due to their battery, and this ploy by Apple let them take advantage of consumers across the world. With any luck, Apple’s blunder will serve as a lesson to other corporations, but the fact that the slowdown went unproven for so long shows that it’s easier to get away with similar tricks than many consumers may realize.