Apple admits slowing down iPhones, House Republicans demand answers

Experts speculate that this might just be a gimmick to boost battery sales, after a disappointing response and growing market competition

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WASHINGTON: Four US House Republicans, including the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, on Friday, wrote Apple Inc (AAPL.O) Chief Executive Tim Cook asking him to answer questions about its disclosure that it slowed older iPhones with flagging batteries.

The letter also said they were concerned about reports that an iPhone battery overheated and began to emit smoke in Switzerland.

Apple has apologised to customers for deliberately slowing the performance of older iPhone models without users’ consent.

It also announced a $ 50 reduction in the cost of iPhone battery replacements, down from $ 79 to $ 29, and an iOS (operating system) software update providing updates on iPhone battery health in early 2018.

The apology comes after Apple admitted to slowing down the iPhones – when their batteries are either old, cold or have a low charge – to prevent abrupt shutdowns.

Apple said the problem was that ageing lithium batteries delivered power unevenly, which could cause iPhones to shut down unexpectedly – endangering the delicate circuits inside.

At least eight separate class-action lawsuits have been filed in the US in relation to the admission. Plaintiffs in California, Illinois and New York all argue that Apple did not have consent to slow their devices.

US Senator John Thune, who chairs the Senate Commerce Committee, sent a similar letter to Apple on Tuesday. Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.