Apple Now Settling $53 Million Suit With iPhone, iPod Touch Owners

Apple has begun pointing iPhone and iPod Touch owners who were denied their warranties due to water damage to a settlement Website.

Apple iPhone owners who believe they're entitled to a piece of the $53 million settlement Apple agreed to in April can now begin filing paperwork.

The settlement followed from a lawsuit filed against Apple by iPhone users who were denied warranty coverage, after Apple believed they had broken the terms of their warranties by dropping the device in water or subjecting it to a large spill.

The iPhones and some iPod Touch models contained a small sensor, or Liquid Contact Indicator, made by 3M, that turns color when substantially wet. However, the plaintiffs argued—ultimately successfully—that the sensors could be triggered by only moisture or very humid conditions.

Apple settled in April, agreeing to put $53 million in a fund "to be shared by roughly 153,000 customers who had been denied warranty coverage under an Apple policy associated with handling water damage," the Wall Street Journal reported May 28.

The Unofficial Apple Weblog reported Aug. 5 that Apple had begun emailing users who had been denied warranty coverage related to water damage, pointing them to a Settlement Website.

Claims must be filed online or postmarked by Oct. 21. To qualify for a cash refund, one must be a United States resident and have been denied warranty coverage for an iPhone before Dec. 31, 2009, or for an iPod Touch before June 30, 2010. In addition, at the time that the iPhone or iPad was brought in, it must have still been covered by the warranty and Apple had to have denied warranty coverage, saying the device had been damaged by liquid.

"Some Settlement Class Members, called 'Direct-Payment Settlement Class Members,' will receive a cash payment even if they do not submit a Claim form," says the site. Those people will receive a customized notice, it continues, and they should make sure that it reflects their correct mailing address, or they won't receive their checks.

Those who don't like the settlement can write the court and object but have to do so by Dec. 4.

The average replacement amounts are $215 to $300 for an iPhone, depending on its configuration; $215 for an iPhone 3G and 3GS; and between $105 and $265 for an iPod Touch, depending on the generation and configuration.

Apple recently also addressed challenges to its warranty policies in China.

Chinese law demands that major computer components be covered by two-year warranties, but Apple offers a one-year warranty on the iPad, skirting the issue by not calling the iPad a portable computer. In other parts of the world, though, Apple has bent to local warranty rules that are stricter than its own.

Apple was also criticized for reportedly repairing devices with used parts.

After the China Consumer Association (CCA) called out Apple on the issue during an international consumer rights' day and asked for a sincere apology, Apple CEO Tim Cook gave one.

He thanked Apple's customers in China for their feedback and said that Apple has "immense respect" for China and the Chinese people.

Additionally, he said that Apple planned to "increase the intensity" of the supervision and training of its service providers, and that it had clarified its warranty—while accessories and batteries have a one-year warranty, all major iPad components are covered for two years.