Apple has been fined $2 million (R29.8 million) for selling its iPhone smartphones without chargers in Brazil.
The penalty was issued by Sao Paulo-based consumer protection agency Procon-SP Foundation, who said the company had used “misleading advertising” when selling its iPhone 12 smartphone.
“Apple committed an abusive practice by selling a smartphone model without the power charger adapter, a necessary and essential accessory for its operation,” Procon said.
With the launch of the iPhone 12 in October 2020, Apple announced the box would not include the charging brick or wired earphones that were previously shipped with its flagship smartphones.
Procon said it had asked Apple for explanations on several points regarding this decision after receiving complaints from consumers.
“Questions about whether there was a reduction in the price of the iPhone 12 device due to the removal of the accessory; what the values of the device sold with and without the adapter and about the effective reduction in the number of adapters produced were some of the questions asked and not answered by the company,” Procon said.
Procon had also received complaints from consumers struggling to get their Phone 11 Pro smartphones repaired by Apple after taking water damage.
Apple told Procon the iPhone 11 Pro’s water resistance would not be permanent, could decrease over time, and that to avoid liquid damage consumers should stop swimming or showering with, or using the smartphone in conditions of extreme humidity.
This was despite the fact that Apple’s advertisements included statements like “rigorous tests and refinements helped to create a durable iPhone that is resistant to water and dust”, “water resistant to 4 meters for up to 30 seconds”, and “made to take splashes and a bath”.
The agency also slammed Apple for not helping customers who had experienced issues after iOS updates, as well as unfair terms contained in its product warranty which go against the country’s consumer protection code.
What’s in the iPhone box
Buyers of new Apple smartphones now only get a USB-C to lightning charging cable alongside their device.
The company has argued that most iPhone users already owned a charging brick and earphones, and that excluding these components would allow the company to reduce its environmental impact through less electronic waster and smaller packaging.
However, industry analysts have criticised these claims and said the changes were merely implemented as a cost-cutting measure so that Apple could keep its iPhone line-up prices down.
Some have pointed out that the move greatly increases the number of charging bricks and earphones which now have to be bought separately.