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Apple Court Action

Thousands of complaints led to Apple court action Would not replace recalled iPhones if they were previously fixed by an “unauthorised repairer” By Tony Ibrahim tijourno  Last updated: 10 April 2017 Thousands of Australian Apple customers were denied their consumer rights to have products repaired, including those sold defective iPhones that were later recalled, according to court documents. The ACCC initiated Federal Court proceedings against Apple late last week for denying to fix iPhones and iPads handled by a third-party repairer, claiming its conduct is a violation of the guarantees protected by Australian Consumer Law. Court documents obtained by CHOICE reveal 275 Apple customers lodged complaints with the ACCC; however, these represent a small percentage of the total number of complaints made, says Rod Sims, chair of the ACCC. “By far the largest number of complaints went to Apple. Certainly we had a number of complaints, but Apple had thousands of complaints made to them,” he says. An investigation was launched into Apple after a share of its customers tried updating to a newer version of iOS. The update disabled iPhones and iPads that had been repaired by “unauthorised” third-party repairers, in an issue widely known as “error 53”. The ACCC found Apple went as far as refusing to repair or replace iPhones part of global recall programs. These iPhones were sold with defects causing the camera to be blurry or the standby button to improperly work. Apple allegedly turned customers affected by the recalls down for more than a year, up until January 2016. The ACCC believes such conduct was part of Apple’s day-to-day conduct. “This was rooted in behaviour by Apple,” Sims tells CHOICE. The ACCC contacted 13 Apple Stores across Australia mid last year as part of its investigation, including the flagship store on George Street in Sydney. A representative from each store confirmed Apple would not fix an iPhone at no cost if it had been handled by a third-party repairer. The policy was also marketed on the company’s Australia website until February 2016, but has since been updated to reflect a backtrack on Apple’s stance. “If you believe that you paid for an out-of-warranty device replacement based on an error 53 issue, contact Apple Support to ask about reimbursement,” the revised webpage says. Other smartphone manufacturers are not suspected of similar behaviour, says Sims. “When dealing with systematic behaviour, we’ll often focus on the biggest player because they’re causing the most detriment, but here the behaviour seems to be particularly focussed with what Apple is doing. “We’ve got to win the case first before one talks about penalties. [But] if a penalty is to be decided, we then need to seek a penalty that is of sufficient deterrent value to Apple and that would have to be substantial.” Apple Australia could not comment at the time of publication.

iPhone 6 spurs ‘abnormal’ repair numbers.

iPhone 6 spurs ‘abnormal’ repair numbers. Mr Twining said the longevity of hardware components, such as speakers, microphones and buttons, generally had not changed for 20 years. Photo: Replacing smashed glass is the most common repair made to smartphones. (ABC News: Malcolm Sutton) He has, however, received an abnormally high rate of repair requests for the new iPhone 6 “from day one” following its launch last month. “Previously all the phones could be gripped in your hand while you’re walking down the street,” Mr Twining said. “But the iPhone 6 is a much bigger size and people are just balancing them on their hand rather than gripping them, and they’re falling.” Another typical repair he made was to the Samsung Galaxy S5 that was released earlier this year, as a water resistant device. “It’s designed to be water resistant and it’s pretty good, but the small print says that under no condition is this phone impervious to water,” Mr Twining said. “But people see the adverts and see people falling in swimming pools and think it’s fine.” A spokesperson for Apple declined to comment on the lasting integrity of iPhones or built- in obsolescence, but said its recent models had made a new sales record by selling more than 10 million devices in the first three days of its launch. Samsung did not respond to a request for comment.

Apple Touch Disease

Apple Touch Disease and Right to Repair.  What does Touch Disease have to do with Right to Repair? Quite a lot, as it turns out. Touch Disease is a problem of premature aging. It’s the result of a design decision to make the iPhone 6 and, especially, the 6 Plus more flexible. The two phone models are simply too flexible—so over time small cracks develop in the soldered connections. The cracks deepen and separate more over time. Each crack disables more and more of the phone’s touch functionality. Every one of these phones was “born” with Touch Disease. It’s only a matter of time before they all show symptoms and premature death. The only solution is to replace the bad chips, restore the soldered connections, and reinforce the phone’s structure. It’s possible to fix these phones and it is being done— but not by Apple. Apple won’t make these repairs in house. They won’t provide any schematics or service documentation to independents willing to take on these repairs. They won’t subcontract repairs to techs that have already mastered these repairs. In fact, Apple won’t even acknowledge Touch Disease as an issue. The only solution Apple has for owners of afflicted phones: “Buy a New Phone” or pay $329 for a refurbed unit. Here’s where it gets nasty for customers. Apple refurb phones aren’t fixed—they are swapped with diseased units that haven’t yet shown symptoms. But, of course, many replacements start showing symptoms quickly. In fact, some users report that their replacement units showed symptoms of Touch Disease right out of the box. No surprise class action lawsuits have been filed on behalf of users. Here’s the cool part: Only independent repair techs have been able to offer a fix because some of them can have the skills and equipment to microsolder. It was independents that discovered how widespread the issue was on their own, they came up with best practices for fixing it on their own, and they even developed some hardware tweaks to prevent the issue from reoccurring. On their own. That’s why we need independents in the repair business. Independents can innovate in different ways than the OEM. Innovations in repair are hindered, intentionally, by companies such as Apple that refuse to provide the basic schematic diagrams that would improve repair success and improve customer satisfaction. Apple goes so far as to fight against Right to Repair legislation to preserve their monopoly on repair—even when they aren’t capable of making the repair themselves.   

Phone Repaired Without Warranty

It is a common scenario: a customer is nearing the end of a 24-month mobile phone contract and despite taking impeccable care of the device, suddenly and for no apparent reason, it stops working like it should. University of Sydney Professor of Media and Communications Gerard Goggin said technology companies across a range of consumer goods were increasingly using the “built-in obsolescence” tactic, so manufacturers could “flog” another product. “It’s a concept that has been obvious for a long time in terms of a consumer society,” he said. “And there’s a sense now in which the built-in obsolescence in devices is shorter than usual.” He said the mobile phone industry had adapted to the concept by setting up plans that allowed customers to “post pay” on 24-month plans with telecommunication companies, so they could avoid paying lump sums for new handsets. Professor Goggin said manufacturers used cheaper components in products and experimented with more plastics in an effort to push for a “quick turnover” of products. Consumer protection: facts and fiction ACCC deputy chairman Michael Schaper says there is a misunderstanding among many consumers that they are not covered if their phones malfunction.He said if a 24-month contract has been entered with a telco, then “the expectation” is that the handset should last the full 24 months, unless it is obviously due to consumer mistreatment.

Australian Consumer Law guarantees consumer protection for a reasonable length of time regardless of manufacturing warranties.”If you’ve got a 24-month contract and you’re paying money, you expect the phone is going to last at least that long. It’s a fairly fundamental issue,” Mr Schaper said.Mr Schaper said a spike in consumer complaints in 2009 and 2010 prompted the ACCC to take action on mobile phones.”When you buy something from a retailer, the consumer has every right to go back to the retailer and say, ‘make it good’,” he said.” The retail centre can’t fob them off and say, ‘you’ve got to go to the retailer’.”Mr Schaper said another spike in complaints late last year led the ACCC to take action with Apple. The company had previously made “misleading representations” to a number of consumers, incorrectly saying its phones were only covered under its 12-month limited warranty. And despite being both a retailer and a manufacturer, customers returning to Apple stores with malfunctioning devices were being told they had to go back to the manufacturer.”We expect bigger firms especially to have a much more sophisticated and a more proactive response to dealing with consumer issues,” Mr Schaper said.”If it’s a minor breakdown, the consumer is entitled to a replacement or repair. If it’s a major fault, it’s a replacement, repair or refund.”Minor is something that is an inconvenience but not the end of the world, but a phone that fundamentally doesn’t work or keeps refusing to work, I’d call that major.” He said the phenomenon first emerged for the mobile phone industry in Hong Kong about 10 years ago. “That had to do with the conspicuous consumption phenomenon – an intersection between the phones being fashionable and people increasingly wanting to have a new phone regularly,” Professor Goggin said. “It was also catered for by being able to change the features of the phone, such as being able to change the face of a Nokia.” Professor Goggin said there was still a market for longer lasting products – made obvious by the sale of heavy duty cases for mobile phones and other protective accessories – but when it came to the phones themselves, “it was a bit hard to point to example sometimes”. He said Nokia Vertu was an example of a luxury, high-end brand, but companies “clearly believed there was an upside in having built-in obsolescence”. “One of the features of mobile phone culture is novelty,” Professor Gerard said. “People want the latest mobile, and there’s still enough innovation in them to justify upgrades, although in three to five years’ time that won’t be the case. “There won’t be that much new in this mobile market, and I feel a bit like that at the moment. I’ve just got an iPhone 5, why would I want an iPhone 6? There’s not much difference in it.” Manufacturers ‘dropping the ball’ on software JC Twining, the owner of 14-year-old Adelaide-based mobile phone repair company Axiom Communications, has been fixing phones for 20 years and said one of the areas that manufacturers were most culpable was software. Photo: Axiom Communications owner JC Twining works on a phone in his workshop. (ABC News: Malcolm Sutton) Mr Twining said they were “dropping the ball a bit”. “When Apple release a new software update, they release it for the current generation that’s out, as well as the previous one,” he said. “They also release it for a couple of older generations, but if you install that, your phone really starts to slow down.” He did not believe it was a deliberate move but said shareholders were “obviously very interested” in getting a return on their investments. “There is that conflict of interest,” Mr Twining said. “Do they make a phone that people want to replace every two years? Or do they make a phone that the consumer wants and wants to last a long time? “The tension between shareholders and customers is always interesting to me.” Dropped phones the most common repair Mr Twining said 80 per cent of the repairs he made were for damage caused when owners dropped their phones – usually breaking the glass. There’s a sense now in which the built-in obsolescence in devices is shorter than usual. Professor Gerard Goggin He said fading batteries were also a commonly reported problem, mainly because many people did not know how to look after lithium cells. “They still think they’re nickel-based and you have to run them down a lot,” Mr Twining said. “It’s not true. If you run it down every day and don’t plug it in in the evening and allow it to go flat, it might die as quickly as in six to 12 months and you need to have it replaced.” Batteries were also under strain due to processors “getting more and more intense”, increasing numbers of transistors and bigger screens. “And manufacturers are going for thinness,” Mr Twining said. “If they made phones half a centimetre thicker, we’d get three times the battery life. “It’s ridiculous, and the same applies for the glass. “If it was just a little thicker it would have much more impact resistance.” iPhone 6 spurs ‘abnormal’ repair numbers Mr Twining said the longevity of hardware components, such as speakers, microphones and buttons, generally had not changed for 20 years. Photo: Replacing smashed glass is the most common repair made to smartphones. (ABC News: Malcolm Sutton) He has, however, received an abnormally high rate of repair requests for the new iPhone 6 “from day one” following its launch last month. “Previously all the phones could be gripped in your hand while you’re walking down the street,” Mr Twining said. “But the iPhone 6 is a much bigger size and people are just balancing them on their hand rather than gripping them, and they’re falling.” Another typical repair he made was to the Samsung Galaxy S5 that was released earlier this year, as a water resistant device. “It’s designed to be water resistant and it’s pretty good, but the small print says that under no condition is this phone impervious to water,” Mr Twining said. “But people see the adverts and see people falling in swimming pools and think it’s fine.” A spokesperson for Apple declined to comment on the lasting integrity of iPhones or built- in obsolescence, but said its recent models had made a new sales record by selling more than 10 million devices in the first three days of its launch. Samsung did not respond to a request for comment.

Apple audited by Australian Tax Office

APPLE Australia has confirmed it is one of the 50 hi-tech companies being audited by the Australian Taxation Office. The ATO will demand seven as yet unnamed hi-tech multinational companies pay up $2 billion as it winds up a series of long-running audits probing tax avoidance. While the ATO will not name and shame, it has confirmed it is currently auditing about 50 multinational corporations. It also confirmed it is reviewing hundreds of other companies for compliance with the general tax law and the multinational anti-avoidance law. The $2 billion, the ATO expects to collect by the end of the financial year comes from amended assessments it has already issued, or is in the process of issuing, to seven companies it describes as “operating in the energy and resources and e-commerce sectors”. The ATO has been probing 12 of the world’s biggest tech companies, including Apple, Microsoft and Google, for the past five years. Apple is one of seven hi-tech multinationals expected to pay $2 billion to the tax office. Picture: AFP Apple has insisted that it pays the right level of tax. In filing its June 2016 accounts, Apple Australia noted for the first time “the Australian Taxation Office is currently auditing the company’s income tax position for the year 2012”. “There are certain transactions and computations for which the ultimate tax determination is subject to the agreement by the relevant tax authority,” the results note. Apple Australia, which alongside Google and Microsoft fronted a 2015 senate inquiry into corporate tax avoidance, has always insisted it had paid all taxes it owed in accordance with Australian law. The Apple accounts filed last week reported a tax expense of $58.5 million as an “adjustment relating to prior years”. Tax commissioner Chris Jordan said 24 multinational companies had approached the tax office seeking to amend their tax payments following recent changes to the legislation, choosing to be proactive rather than risk a higher penalty. Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan said 24 companies have approached the ATO to amend their tax payments. Picture: News Corp The Federal Government announced a $679 million boost for the ATO in the recent budget to fund the Tax Avoidance Taskforce to target groups including multinational enterprises and ensure they “pay the right amount of tax, according to law, in Australia”. An ATO spokesman said the taskforce “will see a greater scrutiny of multinational and large public and private groups and wealthy individuals operating in Australia”. “It means that the ATO has more resources to undertake investigations and challenge the most aggressive tax avoidance arrangements.” The ATO predicts the Taskforce will recover $3.7 billion over four years. On the wider landscape, Apple is contesting a $18.6 billion tax bill in Ireland while Apple CEO Tim Cook this week predicted changes to the US tax laws which would impact on tech companies including Apple. In its quarterly results this week, Apple announced its cash horde had grown to $322 billion, with 94 per cent of that amount held outside of the US. Mr Cook said there were signs of changes to international tax laws which would allow Apple to bring more of those funds back to the US, which he said would be “very good for the country, and good for Apple”. CEO Tim Cook expects changes to international tax laws which would allow Apple to bring more of their funds back to the US. Picture: AF Mobile phones engineered ‘not to last’, expert says

Apple potentially taking all repairs inhouse

Apple’s secret iPhone calibration machine and its Touch ID sensor will allow it to monopolize the repair industry. Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that the next iPhone will have some significant changes. The report notes that the next iPhone will not have a home button and will instead be made of a single piece of glass, a long-rumored and seemingly inconsequential move that is in fact central to an ongoing and hugely important legislative struggle between America’s largest company and thousands of independent smartphone repair shops. Moving the Touch ID fingerprint-reading sensor from the home button into the screen itself will have the side effect of giving Apple a straightforward path to monopolizing screen repair. The move could give Apple unprecedented control over the ownership and repairability of your phone, which means that in the very near future, it’s possible that the only company that will be able to do a simple iPhone screen replacement will be Apple itself. If the Wall Street Journal report is true (similar things have been reported by Bloomberg  and featureless, buttonless fingerprint-reading technology has been patented by Apple), the development could hurt thousands of independent smartphone repair companies around the United States, and it threatens the very concept of phone ownership. The move would combine the only part of the iPhone that can currently only be replaced by Apple (the Touch ID sensor) and the most often broken part of the iPhone (the screen) into one part. The removal of the home button would be an instant death blow to many of the roughly 15,000 independent smartphone repair companies in the United States, most of which are small businesses that work primarily on iPhones and specialize in screen replacement. A few caveats before we get to the meat of the matter: Even if Apple decides to not get rid of the home button in the next iPhone, the way the company currently handles Touch ID replaceability is still central to the ongoing right-to-repair legislation currently being considered in eight states; this matters, even if Apple kicks the redesign further into the future. This is because the only part of the iPhone that has a software lock preventing repair, and Apple’s lobbying against this legislation has been focused on protecting that software lock. It is also entirely possible that Apple makes Touch ID easier to repair with the next iPhone by redesigning its software; this would be a good result. How independent iPhone screen repair works todayIf you crack the screen of your iPhone and take it to a third-party repair company, a technician can swap your broken screen for a new one. This screen may have been salvaged from another phone, or it might be an aftermarket part bought from any number of factories in China. These aftermarket parts are of varying quality—some are as good as Apple’s original parts, others are less good. Regardless of the quality of the part, however, the repair tech never replaces the actual Touch ID button. Instead, they will swap it from your old screen onto your new one. The Touch ID sensor is paired with the “Secure Enclave” chip inside of the phone, which you may remember from the Apple vs. FBI encryption debate from last year. The Secure Enclave stores your fingerprint data, passcode, and other cryptographic information using a built-in random number generator. The security features that have to do with preventing repair, it should be noted, have nothing to do with the overall encryption of data on the iPhone. For the purposes of this article, accessing the data stored within the Secure Enclave is functionally impossible without entering your passcode to unlock the phone.

Apple Repairs Court Case

Apple taken to court by ACCC over alleged consumer

warranty misrepresentations

Friday 6th April

Apple taken to court by ACCC over alleged consumer warranty misrepresentations. By Lucia Stein 

The ACCC alleges Apple illegally denied warranty repairs because of third party work on devices. Picjumbo.com The competition and consumer law watchdog is taking action against Apple over allegations it misled consumers about their warranty rights under the Australian Consumer Law. Key points: · ACCC alleges Apple breached the consumer law by denying warranty repairs to customers who had used a third party repairer · Consumer law gives customers rights to repair or replacement of faulty goods beyond manufacturer’s warranty · ACCC said Apple’s move may unfairly discourage people from using third party repairers The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court against Apple after an investigation into “error 53”, which saw iPads or iPhones disabled after users downloaded an Apple IOS update. The ACCC alleges Apple represented to consumers with faulty products that they were not entitled to a free remedy if their Apple device had previously been repaired by an unauthorised third party repairer, even in cases where the repair was unrelated to the fault. Mr Sims said the central allegation was that consumers who had gone to third parties for repairs, for example to fix a cracked screen, were routinely refused any service to their Apple device, even if the fault had nothing to do with the cracked screen. “Consumer guarantee rights under the Australian Consumer Law exist independently of any manufacturer’s warranty and are not extinguished simply because a consumer has goods repaired by a third party,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said in a statement. “Denying a consumer their consumer guarantee rights simply because they had chosen a third party repairer not only impacts those consumers but can dissuade other customers from making informed choices about their repair options – including where they may be offered at lower cost than the manufacturer.” Rights outside of warranty The Australian Consumer Law’s guarantees mean you can get some faulty goods replaced even if they are out of warranty.  The ACCC is alleging breaches of the law relating to 275 customers, with each breach carrying a maximum penalty of $1.1 million. However, even if the ACCC wins its case in full, it is extremely unlikely that Apple would be fined anywhere near the maximum penalty for each breach. Under the Australian Consumer Law, consumers are entitled to have their goods fixed or replaced at no cost to them in situations where the goods or services are not of an acceptable quality – that is where they have faults, visible damage or do not do what you would normally expect them to. Mr Sims said those consumer guarantees extend to software or software updates loaded onto a product, which means any problems caused by software updates may entitle consumers to a free substitute under the Australian Consumer Law. Apple’s behaviour ‘very unusual’ According to Mr Sims, Apple’s behaviour is “very unusual” and not the sort of behaviour that should be going on in a modern economy. “I find [Apple’s behaviour] puzzling. We often find with companies generally that they like to have goods repaired by themselves, rather than by third party repairers,” he told the ABC. “I think the allegations we’re making here, and which are now before the court, are extremely serious … and I think the allegations if proven, reflect extremely bad behaviour.” He said part of the benefit of putting matters like these before the court was to remind both consumers and companies of their rights and responsibilities under the consumer guarantees. The ABC has contacted Apple for its response.

Boost Battery Life

Boost battery life: 1. Dim the screen brightness or use auto brightness

You love your smartphone’s large, colourful display, but it’s the battery‘s mortal enemy. More than any other component of your phone, the display consumes battery life at a devastating pace. Most phones include an auto-brightness feature that automatically adjusts the screen’s brightness to suit ambient lighting levels.

Boost battery life: 2. Keep the screen timeout short

Under your phone’s display settings menu, you should find an option labeled ‘Screen Timeout’ or something similar. (On an iPhone, look for Auto-Lock in the General settings menu.) This setting controls how long your phone’s screen stays lit after receiving input, such as a tap.

Boost battery life: 3. Turn off Bluetooth

No matter now much you love using Bluetooth with your hands-free headset, your wireless speaker or activity tracker, the extra radio is constantly listening for signals from the outside world. When you aren’t in your car, or when you aren’t playing music wirelessly, turn off the Bluetooth radio.

Boost battery life: 4. Turn wifi off

Wifi when not logging into your home internet or friends drains a serious amount of battery juice constantly searching for new wifi networks

Boost battery life: 5. Turn off your GPS

Your gps is constantly accessing satellites and then pining your phones gps which uses a huge amount of battery

Boost battery life:  6. Close down Apps not running

Leaving apps running in the background chews up a huge amount of battery without you even noticing always get in the habit if turning off your apps once you stop using them.

Best Mobile Battery Life 2

Motorola Moto Z Play

As the cheapest, most “midrange” phone of Lenovo’s Motorola Moto Z series, we were stunned to see that the Moto Z Play not only had the longest battery life of the Z line, but of all the handsets we reviewed in 2016 and beyond. Clocking in a whopping 23 hours and 3 minutes, this handset is worth getting for the battery life alone.

Best Mobile Battery Life

Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus

The Galaxy S8 Plus is a big phone that manages to make a 6.2-inch screen look graceful. It has every hardware and software advantage of the ultrasleek, curved Galaxy S8, including long battery life. During its lab test, it lasted a solid 18 hours of usage.