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The French government has fined Apple €25 million for slowing down iPhones as the batteries got older. There was controversy in 2017 when it was discovered that Apple was purposely slowing down phones as the batteries degraded. Apple said the reason for slowing the phones was to try and maintain battery life. Batteries have a limited lifespan; the more they are used, the worse they become and eventually they need to be replaced. Apple chose to limit the power of older iPhones in order to maintain the battery life that customers expect from iPhones. Without the power limitation, old phones would turn off after an incredibly short amount of time because of a quickly depleting battery.

Critics of Apple have argued that the company was engaging in planned obsolescence of their phones. Planned obsolescence is the idea that a company tries to make their products stop working earlier than they otherwise would so customers will need to replace them. The French government didn’t go so far as to accuse Apple of planned obsolescence. Apple was fined for not adequately informing consumers that they could replace their batteries in order to fix the performance issues with their phones. Apple temporarily reduced the price of an iPhone battery replacement for the whole of 2018 in an attempt to appease customers. Apple has also introduced new software features to monitor the battery life of iPhones. This includes giving users the ability to choose between battery life and phone performance once their batteries have degraded.

Shortly after the French ruling, Apple settled a class-action lawsuit in the US. Apple was being sued for slowing down older iPhone models in order to induce owners into replacing their devices or batteries. Apple denied the accusations but agreed to pay up to $500 million to settle the case and avoid increasing litigation costs. The settlement cost means Apple must pay consumers $25 per iPhone, covering many iPhone models beginning with the iPhone 6. Lawyers defending the consumers called the settlement “fair, reasonable, and adequate.”

Difficult words

Degrade (v): To lower the quality.

Lifespan (n): How long something can live.

Deplete (v): To use up the supply, finish.

Obsolescence (n): The process of something becoming obsolete or outdated.

Adequately (adv): To be satisfactory.

Appease (v): To satisfy someone’s demands.

Induce (v): Persuading others to do something.

Litigation (n): The process of taking legal action.

Settlement (n): An official agreement.

Activities

For listening practise, listen to the recorded article here:

British English: Coming Soon!

American English: 

Match the Synonym!

1. Degrade A. Drain
2. Lifespan B. Satisfactory
3. Deplete C. Satisfy
4. Obsolescence D. Life expectancy.
5. Adequately E. Legal action.
6. Appease F. Devalue
7. Induce G. Agreement
8. Litigation H. Outdated
9. Settlement I. Persuade

True or False?

1.  The German government has fined Apple. T / F

2. Apple increased the speed of their phones as they got older. T / F

3. Apple wanted to maintain the battery life of the phones. T / F

4. If the power limitation was not implemented, the phones would continue working as normal. T / F

5. Some people think Apple wanted to force customers to buy new phones. T / F

6. Most batteries have an unlimited lifespan. T / F

7. The French government accused Apple of planned obsolescence. T / F

8.  Apple was accused of not informing consumers of their actions. T / F

9. Apple has kept battery replacements the same since the accusations started. T / F

10. Apple denied the accusations from the US. T / F

Unscramble the sentence!

1. government / €25million / fined / has / French / The / Apple

2. of / limit / to / Apple / power / chose / older / iPhones / the

3. accuse Apple / as / The French / didn’t / go / government / to / so far

4. temporarily / Apple / an / reduced / of / iPhone battery / price / the

5. agreed / denied / to pay / up / the accusations / but / Apple / $500 million / to

Listening and Vocabulary

Listen to the article and fill in the words OR practice vocabulary and fill in the words.

British English: Coming Soon!

American English: 

Engaging Reasonable Eventually
Case Fined Degraded
Temporarily Limitation Lawsuit

The French government has (1)_________ Apple €25 million for slowing down iPhones as the batteries got older. There was controversy in 2017 when it was discovered that Apple was purposely slowing down phones as the batteries degraded. Apple said the reason for slowing the phones was to try and maintain battery life. Batteries have a limited lifespan; the more they are used, the worse they become and (2)______________ they need to be replaced. Apple chose to limit the power of older iPhones in order to maintain the battery life that customers expect from iPhones. Without the power (3)___________, old phones would turn off after an incredibly short amount of time because of a quickly depleting battery.

Critics of Apple have argued that Apple was (4)_____________ in planned obsolescence of their phones. Planned obsolescence is the idea that a company tries to make their products stop working earlier than they otherwise would so customers will need to replace them. The French government didn’t go so far as to accuse Apple of planned obsolescence. Apple was fined for not adequately informing consumers that they could replace their batteries in order to fix the performance issues with their phones. Apple (5)_____________ reduced the price of an iPhone battery replacement for the whole of 2018 in an attempt to appease customers. Apple has also introduced new software features to monitor the battery life of iPhones, this includes giving users the ability to choose between battery life and phone performance once their batteries have (6)_____________.

Shortly after the French ruling, Apple settled a class-action (7)____________ in the US. Apple was being sued for slowing down older iPhone models in order to induce owners into replacing their devices or batteries. Apple denied the accusations but agreed to pay up to $500 million to settle the (8)________ and avoid increasing litigation costs. The settlement cost means Apple must pay consumers $25 per iPhone, covering many iPhone models beginning with the iPhone 6. Lawyers defending the consumers called the settlement “fair, (9)_______________, and adequate.”

Conversation Questions

Take turns speaking with a partner or try to answer on your own:

1. Did you find this article interesting? Why or why not?
2. Did you learn anything new from this article? If so, what?
3. What do you think of this story?
4. Do you think it was right for France to fine Apple?
5. Did you experience your iPhone slowing down after an update?
6. Do you believe that Apple slowed down iPhones so people would have to buy new ones?
7. Do you agree with the punishments the courts gave Apple?
8. Do you think planned obsolescence is a problem with other products?
9. Do you buy a new phone if yours gets slow?
10. Would you rather replace the battery on an old phone or buy a new one?
11. Do you think Apple’s battery replacement discount was a good apology to customers?
12. Do you always update your phone to the latest software?
13. Would you rather your phone slow down or the battery last longer?
14. How important is the repairability of a product to you?
15. Have you ever had the battery replaced on any of your devices?
16. Do you use the new battery health features on phones?
17. How many hours do you think a phone’s battery should last?
18. Do you think an iPhone’s battery should be more easily replaced?
19. Do you think companies use other ways to make people update their devices?
20. Have similar scandals with tech companies happened in your country?