Apple Went Too Far With iPhone's Water-Resistance Claims, Says Italian Regulator

The Italian Competition Authority fines Apple 10 million Euros for misleading claims about how it determined iPhone water resistance.
Apple Went Too Far With iPhone's Water-Resistance Claims, Says Italian Regulator
Image credit: Apple via PCMag

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This story originally appeared on PC Mag

Apple went overboard when promoting the iPhone’s water-resistance capabilities, according to an Italian government regulatory agency.

On Monday, the Italian Competition Authority fined the company 10 million Euros ($12 million) over the iPhone’s water-resistance promotional messaging, which it called misleading. 

The regulator’s main problem is how Apple told consumers the products could survive a drop in the water—from a depth of 1 to 4 meters depending on the iPhone model—for up to 30 minutes. The promotional claims were posted on Apple’s Italian website, and used in TV commercials and on social media; footage showed an iPhone getting blasted with water from all sides.  

However, the Italian Competition Authority says Apple should have clarified to say the water-resistance claims were based on a controlled laboratory test using pure water, and not a real-world scenario, like dropping an iPhone in a salt water sea. The exact context of Apple’s water-resistance claims can only be learned if the consumer visits a company’s webpage and scrolls down to the IP (Ingress Protection) rating information

Image Credit: Italian Competition Authority via PCMag

The regulator also had a problem with an Apple disclaimer that says “the guarantee does not cover damage caused by liquids.” Thus, the company could refuse service to consumers with iPhones damaged by water. Moreover, the Italian Competition Authority adds the disclaimer failed to specify whether this was a legal guarantee, nor did it explain the limitations behind Apple’s water-resistance claims.   

The Italian regulator began investigating complaints in December 2019. One customer noted the iPhone had been taken on a short dive in sea water when it stopped working. To fix it, the owner had to pay 640 Euros.

The fine applies to Apple’s promotional messaging for the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone XR, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max. The newest model, the iPhone 12, wasn’t included. But the product does boast a water resistance at a maximum of 6 meters for up to 30 minutes. 

We’ve reached out to Apple for comment, and we’ll update the story if we hear back.

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