Apple's misleading claims of waterproof iPhones prompt fines in Italy

Apple has been advertising most of its recent iPhones as having some degree of water-proof rating. But the company has been reluctant to help many users with water damage. — Robert Günther/dpa

Water resistance is a must-have feature on a flagship smartphone these days and manufacturers will rarely miss the chance to show you footage of their phones surviving big splashes.

But the disappointing levels of waterproofing on Apple's iPhones have now cost the company after Italy's antitrust regulator AGCM fined Apple €10mil (RM49.3mil) on Nov 30 for misleading water resistance claims.

The authority took issue with ads in which latest iPhone models were presented as water resistant (with IP68 and IP67 ratings) and withstanding water for up to 30 minutes at depths ranging from 1m to 4m.

Customers were not properly warned that this could happen only during "specific and controlled laboratory tests" and "not under normal conditions of use," AGCM noted in a statement.

Apple was also fined for its refusal to fix under warranty liquid-related damage, as the Italian watchdog considered it an "aggressive business practice”.

On its website, Apple says most recent iPhone models, starting from the iPhone 7 (2016), "are splash, water, and dust resistant and were tested under controlled laboratory conditions."

It also warns consumers to avoid "swimming or bathing with your iPhone", "exposing your iPhone to pressurized water or high velocity water", and "intentionally submerging your iPhone in water". Apple Italy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Any water and dust resistance on smartphones is generally considered to wear off over time, and impacts, heat and long-term usage can wear down the rubber seals insulating parts on the inside.

Owners are better off looking at any promise of waterproofing as an extra level of safety in case of an accident, rather than as a licence to take underwater photos. – dpa

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