Apple picks up a $12 million fine over claims of iPhone water resistance

Apple iPhone 12
Apple iPhone 12 (Image credit: Apple)

What you need to know

  • Apple has been ordered to pay a $12 million fine after Italian regulators looked into the way it advertises iPhones.
  • Regulators say Apple doesn't make it clear that water resistance claims are only accurate in lab tests.
  • The regulators aren't keen that Apple advertises water resistance but won't back that up if a warranty claim is made.

Apple has been told that it has to hand over €10M ($12M) after it was adjudged to have been misleading in the way it advertises iPhones in Italy. Local regulators have taken issue with the way the company says its iPhones are water-resistant but then won't back that up when people try to claim on their warranty when a device is water damaged.

See more

Italy's L'Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (AGCM) has imposed the fine, saying that Apple's claim of the iPhone's water resistance is misleading because it doesn't point out that it only applied to lab tests, not real use.

The first concerns the marketing of a number of different iPhone models – iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone XR, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone 11, iPhone 11pro and iPhone 11 pro Max – in which it was claimed that each of the advertised products was water resistant to a maximum depth varying between 4 meters and 1 meter depending on the model. for up to 30 minutes.According to the Authority, however, the messages did not clarify that these claims were true only in the presence of specific conditions, for example during specific and controlled laboratory tests with the use of static and pure water, and not in normal use of the devices by consumers.

The regulator also says that Apple then refuses to offer warranty repairs on devices that have been damaged by water or other liquids. "The guarantee does not cover damage caused by liquids" is a disclaimer Apple offers up – something that goes against the advertising Apple uses to promote iPhone and its water resistance.

It's easy to see why the regulators are calling shenanigans here and, realistically, it's something that could well now lead to a a similar situation in other European countries.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.