Apple fined by Antitrust: iPhones are not waterproof

The Antitrust Authority has fined Apple 10 million euros for misleading advertising on the waterproofness of iPhones

Maximum million dollar fine for Apple on charges of misleading advertising on iPhones. The Antitrust Authority has fined the companies Apple Distribution International and Apple Italia Srl a total of 10 million euros for two separate commercial practices considered unfair.

The first practice challenged by the Antitrust Authority concerns the promotional messages of several iPhone models presented as water resistant, not explaining that this feature occurs only in the presence of specific laboratory conditions and that the warranty did not cover damage caused by liquids in normal use by the user. The second practice, on the other hand, concerns after-sales assistance: the Antitrust Authority deemed Apple's refusal to repair under warranty iPhones sold as waterproof damaged by water or other liquids to be an "aggressive commercial practice".

Which iPhones are waterproof?

There are several iPhones sold by Apple as water-resistant devices for a depth varying between 4 meters and 1 meter, depending on the model, and up to 30 minutes. In particular, the promotional messages about water resistance that ended up in the Antitrust's crosshairs concern the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone XR, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone 11, iPhone 11pro and iPhone 11 pro Max models.

Antitrust fines Apple: the reasons

After some consumers complained of damage caused by water or other liquids to their iPhones, even respecting the conditions described by Apple's specifications, the Antitrust Authority launched an investigation that led to the maxi fine for unfair commercial practice.

The guarantor of consumer rights explains: "The messages did not clarify that this property is found only in the presence of specific conditions, for example during specific and controlled laboratory tests using static and pure water, and not in the normal conditions of use of the devices by consumers."

The Antitrust Authority then underlines that the disclaimer "the warranty does not cover damage caused by liquids" is actually misleading, because "it is suitable to deceive consumers by not clarifying which kind of warranty it refers to (conventional warranty or legal warranty), nor has it been considered able to adequately contextualize the conditions and limitations of the asserted claims of water resistance".

The other commercial practice contested by the Antitrust Authority to Apple concerns the after-sales assistance phase. In particular, the Cupertino company's refusal to provide warranty assistance to iPhones damaged by the introduction of water or other liquids was considered an "aggressive commercial practice" that hindered "the exercise of the rights recognized to them by the law on warranty, i.e. the Consumer Code".

Antitrust: the measures against Apple

The two reasons have led the Antitrust Authority to raise a fine of 10 million euros for the two companies Apple Distribution International and Apple Italia Srl, as well as obliging the Cupertino company to publish on its website an extract of the measure in the page "Information for consumer protection".

Are the iPhone 12 waterproof?

Many will now be wondering if the iPhone 12 is indeed resistant to water, splashes and dust as advertised by Apple, which however points out that these characteristics will diminish over time with normal wear and tear.

According to the company's website, on the "Water, Splash and Dust Resistance Information for iPhone 7 and Later Models" page, all four iPhone 12s, including the mini, Pro and Pro Max versions, are IP68 certified, meaning they can withstand a maximum depth of 6 meters for up to 30 minutes.

In addition, the site states that these models "are resistant to accidental spills of common liquids, such as soda, beer, coffee, tea and juice." All features, however, that in the document are also associated with other iPhone models, including those that ended up in the crosshairs of the Antitrust that led to the maxi penalty for Apple.