Fraud or not fraud, part 2: But what about Apple's iPhone battery time claims?

Apple's battery life claims didn't amount to much

Kevin Ho
Kevin Ho is an attorney living in San Francisco. He's from Iowa originally where he got his first Atari computer when he was little and remembers using the Apple IIGS. He is PC-user but secretly a Mac person in the closet as evidenced by many an iPod cluttering his desk drawers. He'll be writing about his experience with the iPhone. Disclosure.
Kevin Ho
2 min read

The whole Freeiphoneswap.com process (see part 1) got me worrying and thinking about fraud. And, with frustrations about the iPhone's battery common among bloggers and friends alike, you know there is a lawsuit looming out there as some plaintiff-side law firm will want to take Apple to task for allegedly misrepresenting the iPhone's battery life (both the first generation and 3G). Whether these would-be rentseekers have a claim a jury would buy will be seen.

But thinking about it, Apple says this about the iPhone's battery life:

Talk time: Up to 5 hours on 3G Up to 10 hours on 2G

Standby time: Up to 300 hours

Internet use: Up to 5 hours on 3G; Up to 6 hours on Wi-Fi

Video playback: Up to 7 hours

Audio playback: Up to 24 hours

All of this with a whole bunch of footnoted caveats about testing being one pre-production models in May 2008 with this feature turned off, that one turned on, and that fact that no animals were harmed. But did they take into account all these 2.0 applications? The fact that people would be using their iPhones to do a lot more than talk, surf the new slowly, email or text? Probably not. All of these footnotes are probably enough of a caveat, c-y-a claim for Apple to argue that they never intended for anyone to rely on these estimates or that they made a warranty about battery life, i.e., no fraud, false promise or negligent misrepresentation, essentially, buyer beware. And with that, it'd be hard to muster a claim of fraud. In any case, legal or otherwise, Apple's claims about battery life didn't seem amount to very much. Just in case, these are the elements of fraud in California:

The tort of deceit or fraud requires: (a) misrepresentation (false representation, concealment, or nondisclosure); (b) knowledge of falsity (or 'scienter'); (c) intent to defraud, i.e., to induce reliance; (d) justifiable reliance; and (e) resulting damage. Engalla v. Permanente Medical Group, Inc., 15 Cal.4th 951, 974 (1997).

Apple has, however, put this page up with tips and suggestions about extending battery time, is this all they're going to do? Well, the jury's out on that one.