macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

New Scientist points out an Apple patent application published today by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that discloses techniques for digitally "detecting whether consumer abuse has occurred in an electronic device." The application cites as examples assessing exposure to liquids, extreme temperatures, or excessive shock, as well as unauthorized tampering, all conditions which could cause damage to the device that may not be covered by manufacturers' warranties.
In general, such warranty and return policies are intended only to cover failures and defects relating to the manufacture or design of the product, and typically do not cover product failure that occurs as the result of consumer abuse. In fact, many warranty policies explicitly exclude returns or repair when damage from consumer abuse, whether intentional or unintentional, is the underlying cause of the product failure. For example, consumer abuse may include exposing an electronic device to liquids, extreme temperatures, or excessive shock (e.g., the resulting impact from dropping the device). Consumer abuse may also result from tampering which may include any interaction with the device that is not related to operating the device in a normal manner (e.g., opening the casing or housing of a device and adding, removing, or altering the internal components).
Records of "abuse events" would be stored in the device's memory and be accessible through a diagnostic interface, allowing service technicians to more easily assess whether a given issue should be covered by the product warranty. The patent application also suggests that the device could turn off individual components or the entire device in response to an abuse event in order to reduce the potential for damage to the device.
In accordance with another disclosed embodiment, the abuse detection circuitry may be configured to disable operation of an electronic device upon detecting the occurrence of a consumer abuse event, for example, by disabling power to the device. Subsequent to disabling operation of the device, the abuse detection circuitry may be further configured to periodically check the sensors to determine whether the detected abuse event is still occurring and to re-enable operation of the device if it is determined that the abuse event is no longer occurring. By disabling operation of the device upon detection of a consumer abuse event, the risks of damage to the device from the abuse event may be reduced.
Many of Apple's current portable devices contain sensors that irreversibly change color upon contact with liquid, allowing service technicians to determine whether an issue may have been caused by consumer behavior that could result in the issue not being covered by warranty. The use of enhanced "abuse" tracking would enable Apple to monitor a wider range of potentially damaging events and more accurately assess the extent and timing of those events.

Article Link: Apple Researching Methods to Detect 'Consumer Abuse' in Portable Devices


macrumors 6502
Jun 14, 2007
If Microsoft would do this everyone would go crazy, but since it is Apple.. I'm sure nobody will complain :cool:


macrumors 65816
Apr 26, 2005
Yay for Apple! Be sure to define abuse so you can fix less, make them buy more!! Screw people so you can add 50 cents to the stock price!!! :apple:

Lesser Evets

macrumors 68040
Jan 7, 2006
The Big Apple is watching you.


It's worrying. Not enough to cause diarrhea, but Apple upped the Ex-lax quotient a tad.


macrumors 68040
Jun 25, 2008
If Microsoft would do this everyone would go crazy, but since it is Apple.. I'm sure nobody will complain :cool:

On what? The Zune?

We're talking about hardware abuse. From these forums you have probably seen all the people that talk about Apple giving them a new phone for something that the user obviously did. Why should they be getting new phones or iPods or whatever? It's not included in the warranty.

Apple shouldn't have to pay for the stupidity of a user. You break your device at no fault of Apple, then you are SOL. The only issues come from when they blame obvious defects on unrelated damages, but we'll have to see where this goes.

I think it's a good idea. It'll put less strain on Apple to replace unwarranted damages and allow them to operate at a lower cost. Who knows, maybe we'll see a drop in costs. :) Doubtful, but a man's gotta dream!


macrumors 65816
May 20, 2008
This is lame... Now apple's gonna keep a watch on how and where you use your product along with limiting what you can do with it. I'm not too comfortable with this.


macrumors 68000
Well, more information is always better. It may help determine why a device is failing or has failed. Actually, such technology could be really good. Especially with the idea of devices being able to detect an "abuse event."Automatically cutting-off electricity if a liquid is detected could save the device from damage. Shorts due to contact with a liquid cause many failures in mobile devices. The possibilities are endless. This is great!


macrumors 6502a
Feb 7, 2003
So much hostility against Apple for trying to protect themselves from having to make warranty repairs for damage caused by the user. People have this entitlement attitude with their Apple products where they believe Apple should repair their laptop/iPhone/iPod if they drop it, pour water on it, or otherwise cause damage to it. This isn't actually how warranties work. Shocking, I know. I don't blame Apple and in fact, encourage them to implement these sensors. If they don't have to pay as much for user-caused damage, their operating margins would be higher and they could lower the prices for the rest of us.


macrumors 68000
Mar 13, 2007
This is a symptom of a society which is increasingly litigious with more cases of attempted fraud.

The scammer have ruined things for everyone. Hopefully, this would go undergo rigourous QC testing to reduce the chance of a false positive.

Teh Don Ditty

macrumors G4
Jan 15, 2007
So if you jailbreak your phone now, they will decline your warranty. If that's not the case now, it will be soon.

Don't do anything your device. Just sit there and look at your beautiful paperweight.

EDIT: For the record, hardware abuse I'm aboard with. It does have some drawbacks though. But who's to say it'll stop there or who decides the standards?


macrumors member
Jul 30, 2006
How about more durable devices?
The moisture strips are the biggest scam to mobile phones every invented. this just takes it one more step further. These little sensors can't prove for a second that 'consumer abuse' is automatically the cause for failures in devices that have problems on a regular basis on their own. :rolleyes:


macrumors 68040
Apr 22, 2005
This is just a patent application to cover some of their your outrage for when it actually appears in a product.


macrumors 6502a
Oct 22, 2007
Not sure how to feel about this. While I see the business rational, and how it could help you and I by reducing warranty costs because of false claims, I am still not sure I like it. What would the device define as abuse?! I am going out on a limb here and going to say that this will be used as an excuse to not fix things. Even when the user is not aware of any "abuse", or if a drop is incorrectly registered as "abuse"... heck, even if the circuitry goes haywire, and self-reports "abuse"... What then my friend, what then :confused:


macrumors 68020
Jul 11, 2008
Cincinnati, Ohio
...I think it's a good idea. It'll put less strain on Apple to replace unwarranted damages and allow them to operate at a lower cost. Who knows, maybe we'll see a drop in costs. :) Doubtful, but a man's gotta dream!

If you drop your iPhone say, and it causes damage in whatever way, why should Apple pay? They shouldn't, and this is backing it up.


macrumors 6502a
Jun 2, 2007
Boston, MA
This is horrible news. Big Brother apple watching us again. Who knows how foolproof this detection software is, but you can be sure they will use it to screw people out of warranties even more than they already do. And disabling a device because of consumer abuse?? So, make it not work? Isn't that why someone would use a warranty to begin with? Sounds more like an excuse to brick anyone who tries to jailbreak their device... you know, someone who wants to use the hardware they purchased for the reasons they want.

Eat me, apple.


macrumors 65816
Oct 21, 2005
I would have to hear more about how it would specifically be used. But water sensors like they already have make sense. All I can get from this is that now it can tell you the fact your iPod is in 20 pieces is fact because it was thrown really hard against a wall.


macrumors 68040
May 27, 2006
Make no mistake - the warranty on your device is an insurance policy (which is only there because of laws in certain countries) and like any other insurance company Apple will use this new technology to get out of covering the cost of problems.

You got the infamous iPhone cracking issue? No replacement if your water sensor is on, because damn that water caused your phone to crack.

Your Magsafe connector exploded? Oh yeah, the day you got caught in a freak rain storm on the way home from work caused that to happen.

The Genius Bar is going to become an even worse place to be.


macrumors 6502
Jun 11, 2005
Ew. Since when has Apple become such a money-hungry/big brother-ish/ corporate hell hole?

This is nothing like the company I, well, "fell in love with" so to speak, years ago.


macrumors newbie
May 31, 2009
As long as it doesn't make the device more expensive...

Also, what if the device in question is "tampered with" before the customer buys it? Imagine the excessive shock one, the UPS guy could just drop it outside my door and cause the shock alert to go off even before i got it on my hands.

This will all depend on how they implement it.

Ew. Since when has Apple become such a money-hungry/big brother-ish/ corporate hell hole?

This is nothing like the company I, well, "fell in love with" so to speak, years ago.

You probably didn't fall for the company per se but for the products they do, like myself.


macrumors 65816
Nov 22, 2008
Until you idiots start voting with your wallet, why should Apple change it's philosophy?

Everyone here saying that Apple "has gone too far this time" would never purchase a Zune, and will probably continue to purchase iPods until they (the purchaser) die.

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