Apple’s iPad 4G advertisements may create legal stir in more countries

March 28, 2012

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission announced Tuesday that it was going to take legal action against Apple for allegedly “misleading’”consumers with the iPad’s 4G label. Now it looks like Sweden and Britain want to do the same. The Verge reports:

Apple may be facing legal challenges in a growing number of countries for touting the "4G" capability of its new iPad. Both Sweden and the UK indicated that they have received numerous consumer complaints about the iPad, which is advertised as a 4G tablet in both countries despite not working on LTE in either. "One may rightfully ask if the marketing of the new iPad is misleading," said Marek Andersson of the Swedish Consumer Agency, which is considering launching an investigation over whether the ads run afoul of consumer protection laws. The UK's Advertising Standards Authority, meanwhile, has told Pocket-lint that it is currently assessing complaints from consumers to "establish whether or not there is a problem under the [Advertising] Code."

The new iPad works on 4G LTE, but only in North America. Even in places like Sweden that have robust 4G networks, the iPad only supports the 700MHz and 2100MHz spectrum bands, which aren't going to be adapted to LTE in those countries any time soon.

Apple, however, has taken steps to appease Australian customers after the allegations came to light. The Post’s Hayley Tsukayama reports:

Following allegations by an Australian agency that Apple’s advertising deceived people into thinking its new iPad could run on on all 4G networks, the company has said that it will offer refunds to any iPad buyers who believe they’ve been misled.

According to a report from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation,the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission told a federal court that Apple had not heeded warnings from the consumer watchdog that it was misleading consumers.

In court, the report said, Apple said that it never claimed that the device would work on Australia’s 4G networks, which are run by the telecom company Telstra. The iPad is, of course, compatible with what is known as “4G” in the U.S. — the LTE networks of Verizon and AT&T — but doesn’t work with the LTE in Australia. The networks operate on different frequencies.

According to a report from Fox News, Apple lawyer Paul Anastassiou said, “At no point in any promotional material for which Apple was responsible has Apple said at any time that the new Apple device is compatible [with Telstra 4G].” He continued, “No such representation in our submission is conveyed by the use of the acronym 4G in the name of the device...Prior to the launch of the product there was significant press pointing out that the device is not compatible with the Telstra 4G LTE network.”

In addition to granting refunds, the company also agreed to post statements at points of sale to make it “plain that there is no claim made in relation to the device that it is capable of connecting with the Telstra 4G LTE network.”

In other iPad news, Apple finally has responded to criticism about the new tablet’s battery, VentureBeat.com reports:

As noted by our own Devindra Hardawar, the new iPad’s battery is almost 70 percent bigger than the iPad 2′s (11,560 mAh versus 6,944 mAh) to help power the Retina display, A5X processor, and LTE connectivity. With that, consumers can expect a much longer charging period and not being able to charge up while playing games and video. But DisplayMate recently leveled criticism at Apple when it said the iPad is only 90 percent charged when it first displays a 100 percent charge.

Apple’s Tchao pushed back on the iPad criticisms, saying all iOS devices have had the same charging behavior. The devices all actually say they are charged to 100 percent, but before they hit a complete charge, the devices discharge and recharge slightly until unplugged. Apple designed the devices to do this to protect the battery even if you leave them on a charger for long periods of time.

“That circuitry is designed so you can keep your device plugged in as long as you would like,” Tchao told AllThingsD. “It’s a great feature that’s always been in iOS.”

As the owner of an iPad 2 and iPhone 4S, that explanation makes sense to me, There have been times in my own experience where the top percentage of charge on either device seemed to the vary slightly from what it displayed while charging. But the difference in battery life per different charges has never been noticeable.

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