Apple Coughs Up $53 Million to Settle Class Action Lawsuit Over iPhone Warranties

You know that little strip in the iPhone that changes color to indicate when there’s been water damage? And how Apple avoided abiding by its warranties by noting that your iPhone showed water damage, even though you swore that you didn’t remember when or where it could have gotten wet? You weren’t the only one to feel screwed by Apple on that front, and you won’t be the only one to receive a cash settlement as a result.

According to a leaked PDF acquired by Wired, Apple has agreed to pay a $53 million class action settlement for its failure to honor those warranties. The issue is that the strips inside those iOS devices (called “Liquid Contact Indicators”, or simply “LCIs”), which were made by 3M, could be triggered even if there wasn’t necessarily actual water damage. Humidity, for example, could give a false positive on the LCIs, which were located in the headphone jacks and dock connectors.

The tell-tale strip (Image credit: Apple [above], [inset])

Apple apparently eventually changed its liquid damage policy so that warranty claims wouldn’t be denied based solely on a triggered headphone or dock LCI for the iPhone (in 2009) and for the iPod touch (in 2010). Reading between the lines, it seems as though Apple discovered the false positive issue and quietly changed its policy accordingly, but the damage to customers had already been done.

Devices that fall under the jurisdiction of the settlement include the iPhone, iPhone3G, iPhone 3GS, and three generations of the iPod touch (in every storage configuration from 4GB to 64GB). Wronged owners of those devices can receive a cash settlement of between $105 and $300, depending on the device. (See the chart, pulled from the leaked document, below.)

For the record, Apple admits no wrongdoing (nor fault, nor liability) in this case; however, the company has decided to just pay that money and get on with it.

iPhone settlements