Apple Fined $12M Over Water Resistance Claim

John Lister's picture

Apple has been fined the equivalent of $12 million USD over "aggressive and misleading" claims about the water resistance of iPhones. An Italian regulator said its advertising wasn't clear enough and that a disclaimer tricked clients.

The fine of 10 million Euros came from Italy's Competition and Market Authority which regulates consumer issues. It took issue with two ways Apple promotes and disclaims the water resistance. (Source:

The first issue was with the way Apple marketed eight iPhone models as being water resistant up to a certain depth (between one and four meters depending on the model) for up to 30 minutes.

Tests Under Lab Conditions

The regulator said this was misleading as the marketing didn't make clear that this claim only applied to tests in laboratory conditions. In these tests, the phones were exposed to pure water that wasn't moving.

The problem is that consumers might not realize the claim didn't extend to real-world conditions, such as a phone being dropped in flowing water or water that could contain salt or contaminants.

The regulator also objected to a disclaimed reading that "The guarantee does not cover damage by liquids." It said this was misleading as consumers would likely assume - given the bold marketing claims - that the disclaimer didn't apply to any water damage in situations where the user would expect the phone to be water resistant.

Warranty Disclaimer Confusing

When Apple then refused to provide repairs or replacements under warranty in these circumstances, the regulators said they were unfairly blocking people from exercising their legal rights. (Source:

As well as paying the fine, Apple must also publish an extract from the regulator ruling on its Italian website. Perhaps oddly, the regulator didn't specifically order it to change either its marketing or disclaimer, though this would certainly seem like a sensible thing for Apple to do.

At the time of writing, Apple had yet to publicly comment on the ruling or say whether it intended to legally challenge the decision.

What's Your Opinion?

Should manufacturers be clearer about the limits of claims they make about water resistance and similar qualities? Would you expect to be able to claim for water damage in these circumstances? Is a total disclaimer on warranties applying to any form of damage caused by liquids reasonable?

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