back to article Finnish regulator calls for iPhone refunds

Finnish iPhone users unhappy at the inability of the handset to operate below zero are entitled to their money back, even if the limitation appears in the small print. The clarification comes from the Finland's Consumer Agency, as reported by Finnish news agency, in response to numerous questions from concerned Finns …


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  1. Syren Baran

    Not freezing in California

    But well above 35 degrees in summer, no?

    Is there ANY country you can use an iPhone all year without voiding the warranty?

    1. Andy 115

      The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

      I must admit I was wondering this when I was on holday last year and had read the "technical specs" for my new iPhone 4. I thought either "someone hasn't thought this through" or "nice getout for calims of defective hardware"

    2. JaitcH

      Is there ANY country you can use an iPhone all year? Yes, there are ...

      Anywhere around the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. You'll have to keep an eye on the humidity restrictions, though.

      They also work year around in Gibraltar, Jersey, Isles of Scilly, Cambodia, Laos, VietNam, HongKong, Lebanon and few other places.

      California actually does freeze - the spring melt of all the mountain snow is where the water fr the south comes from. Funny how the Japanese haven't complained about this - they did manage to get new batteries out of Jobs.

      I guess the specs were written for Cupertino - or 'Snow Birds' who follow the sun in their retirement.

      1. Manu T

        How about Norway, Sweden, Russia, Alaska and northen Canada? How about other phones?

        Let's not forget that Finland's outside temperatures are well bellow the -10 deg Celsius you encounter i/t UK, Scotland or similar parts of Europe during winter.

        I do wonder why nobody from Alaska has complained nor Finland's neighbors Sweden and Russia (or ppl from Norway for that matter). I do suspect that weather conditions are slightly different (even during winter) in the south of Finland and the north next to the north-pole.

        Anyway, are there any Alaska residents or ppl up north of Canada who can enlighten us?

        Who do other cellphones fare during winter-conditions?

    3. Arctic fox

      @Syren Baran: Textual analysis is clearly needed here.

      When Mr Jobs used the description "magical" he was in fact talking about the warranty not the products.

    4. BongoJoe

      But shirely

      up in the San Berdino mountains around, for example, Lake Arrowhead and (not that one) Twin Peaks it gets right cold in winter. I know, I've been there many a time.

      Not all of California is a dust bowl desert, you know.

      (Pengiun because of the topic)

  2. Sam Paton

    Oh come on

    Is the Reg taking some news tips from Engadget. Nice to get a bit of conspiracy in there but there is quite a big difference between -10 and -25 or lower, which isn't uncommon in Finland. Even in the south.

    I've had my iPhone screen stop responding whilst here. I don't think it's really a refund worthy fault (I might think different if I was in Northern Finland) but the judgement is more reflective of Finland's generally socially orientated government and regulations than some silly protectionist policies (which wouldn't work anyway, everyone here seems to be buying HTC's or iPhones)

    1. Manu T

      Re: Oh come on

      I take it you were there on vacation? You might see this different when you live there and rely on your cellphone for day-to-day communications.

      If iPhones aren't indeed suitable for polar conditions then indeed Apple must warn potential (polar) customers (which it apparantly does albeit in small print). I think its obvious that consumer products being sold there would be tested for such harsh local weather-conditions. And if not valid then the product should be banned or modified to withstand those local weather-conditions (albeit at higher consumerprices). I believe Volvo's sold in Sweden ARE different from the ones sold in Belgium or France. They have surplus issolation.

      However it is suspicious that finnish regulator comes with this after 2 generations of iPhones have been sold (3G and 3GS). So either the 3G(s) models withstand those harsh conditions or there is another motivation behind this.

      The truth is out there :-)

  3. nigel 15

    the problem is the T&C's not the phone

    the wording of the terms and conditions essentially means that apple don't have to honour the warranty on any iPhone sold in Finland, or dozens of other countries....

    ...they just need to change the terms and then they're all fine.

    1. Danny 14

      not really

      If finland has an equivalent of "sale of goods act" then this supercedes the small print on such matters.

      1. nigel 15

        not really

        that's not really true. it means that the item is unfit. and you are entitled to a refund. it doesn't force apple to honour the warranty.

        additionally. a point that everyone seems to have missed is that the warranty claim would be against apple. the refund is against the retailer.

        what this ruling does is move the responsibility on to the carriers. their right of redress against apple will depend on their contracts.

        1. Arctic fox

          Which is why I said in my previous posting that Mr Jobs is quite right......

          .........Apple's warranty is "magical" - now you see it, now you don't.

  4. MacroRodent


    "around -10°C without complaint. "

    Bah, that's warm... In Helsinki the temperature has so far in this year been -18 C at the lowest at my thermometer. Temperatures below -25 C are not unknown in January and February - and Helsinki is at the south end of the country. The record cold in Finland was -51.5 C measured in 1999, in Pokka, Lapland.

  5. Neil Lewis

    Maybe the Finns have a different idea of 'reasonable'

    It's not exactly a secret that ALL electronic devices malfunction outside of a fairly limited range of operating conditions. I'm not sure just how reasonable it is to expect an iPhone to behave differently to any other device with respect to temperature. Having said that, it is a mobile 'phone (duh!) and a user might therefore 'reasonably' expect to use it outdoors, while indoor electronic kit would never be expected to suffer the same conditions. Presumably the same ruling would affect all other mobile 'phones, too. Perhaps Nokias are made of hardier stuff.....

    No, I don't own an i-Anything, don't plan to do so and am not a fan of Apple in any way.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      suoıʇɐʇɔǝdxǝ ǝןqɐuosɐǝɹ

      "I'm not sure just how reasonable it is to expect an iPhone to behave differently..."

      If I go to a shop down the street and buy a mobile phone, then I expect that phone to work when I walk out of that shop. Also in the outdoors. If the phone can't handle that, then I expect the shop to not offer that phone in the first place.

      If I were mail-ordering something, that'd be a different story.

      1. jonathanb Silver badge

        Re: suoıʇɐʇɔǝdxǝ ǝןqɐuosɐǝɹ

        I usually expect to have to charge up the phone, put in my exchange server settings and wait about 10 minutes or so for it to sync before I can use it, but other than that, I agree with you.

      2. Blue eyed boy

        Minä puhun suomen kieltä vähän

        so perhaps you could translate your title for the benefit of others here.

    2. Arctic fox

      In general I agree but it would be nice if a certain fruit company......

      .....made it clear in rather larger type that these restrictions exist. Then we who live in the upper half of the northern hemisphere would not bother to buy the iPhone. That of course is why a certain greengrocer does not exactly go out of its way to alert the aforementioned geographically challenged customers to this problem.

  6. HelenaHandcart

    Read your own reports!

    It might be 'not at all' in your own experience but earlier this month you reported on this case where Apple refused to repair an iPhone on the grounds that damage had been caused by use in too cold an environment (Norway).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      ^^^^ THIS

      Just calling it a hunch, but I'd bet if Apple hadn't been refusing warranty repairs none of this would be a problem. That action pretty much made the case that they are selling a device unfit for purpose.

      i.e. "[here's your phone, thanks for shopping with Apple... oh and please read the fine print where you really shouldn't use your phone outside in this country because if anything happens to it we'll tell you to uck foff if you want us to fix it]"

      One way to read this, IMO at least, very well could be that this is their way of forcing Apple to honor its warranty regardless of the fine print.

    2. Lars Silver badge
      Jobs Horns

      Re: Read your own reports!

      I agree with that. I have newer had any problems with Nokia, Ericsson or Siemens phones in Finland, although I have occasionally left them in the car over night at low temperatures, say -20 C and so.

      So I think the point here is that the phone should not be damaged in the cold and they should work in the cold too, which is a different thing as you take your warm phone out of your pocket and use it in the cold.

      So if Apple starts to referee to the climate each time there is a problem with a IPhone in Finland

      then I do see a reason why people should get their money back.

      I do not think this will happen as I cannot see how Apple would have been able to produce a phone in such a different way, anyway .

    3. Lars Silver badge
      Gates Horns

      Re: my previous post

      Of course, if the connection between components is so tight that they will snap in the cold, then

      Apple users have a serious problem, but I doubt the Chinese would have made such a mistake.

  7. Jason Togneri

    Add me to the list

    Another non-iPhone Finland resident here. Yep, I've seen temperatures of anything up to -35'C in my time here, and between -10 and -20'C is normal (at the moment it's -2 but has hit -18'C just a couple of night ago, and I'm in the very south. My Nokia N70 has worked in these temperatures for about five years now with nary a problem, except once in about -25'C where response became sluggish due to the coldness of the silicon. No failures though. It's not that I think Nokia phones are particularly tough, just that the iPhone seems to be particularly weak in comparison. But hey, it was designed for pretentious artsy types who hang around all day in offices and "studios" and coffee shops, so what's the problem?

    1. kwhitefoot

      N73 also works in the cold

      It never occurred to me that a mobile phone sold in a cold country wouldn't work there, in 25 years of living in Norway I've never heard of a mobile that failed to work because of the cold. My N73 works fine here in Norway (it was -14C this morning). If it doesn't work outside at -25C what's the point in owning it in Scandinavia?

      1. Arctic fox
        Thumb Up

        Enig kompis (I agree mate)

        If the iPhone does not cope with Scandinavian conditions Apple should stop selling here or accept that they are going to get more returns if they _do_ market here.

  8. Chris 211

    The get-out that bites back.

    "Get-Out" clause's posted on most equipment have always pissed me off so its nice to see one bite the owner in the ass! If I suddenly wake up naked, freezing and lost clutching my phone I really expect to be able to find out where I am and make a call! Its the least my phone could do for me.

    1. The Fuzzy Wotnot


      Wake up cold and naked, clutching your phone? Sounds like a typical Friday night in my local area!

      1. Manu T

        Re: Wahey

        This is especially problematic since he would at least need one sock to put over the iPhone to have proper reception anyway >:->

        Glad that -10° C is lowest it can get here. Which means I can keep my underwe... euh... socks on.

  9. kode

    First in Norway

    I first heard about this maybe a couple of weeks ago when people in Norway were having problems about iPhones in cold weather, and Apple was trying to slither away from having to deal with the issue. So I wouldn't say it's about Nokia.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: First in Norway

      Indeed. Expect some regulatory action in Norway if it turns out that people can't do reasonable things like make or receive phone calls outside under normal conditions: the regulatory authorities there don't have a problem sticking it to companies like Apple and Nokia (cluebolt to article author) if it looks like they're selling stuff that shoves a bunch of unreasonable caveats on consumers.

      The "ooh, it's Finland, so Nokia must be responsible" commentary is simply juvenile given that Nokia doesn't run Norway (and eventually any other country that has the balls to pick this up), even if one could argue that Finnish politicians might pander to that company, and is akin to saying "How dare those dirty foreigners tell us what is not shiny and/or what is cold?!"

      -10C in Scotland for a few days? Thermometer showed -15C? Big deal: you can measure weeks and months with such temperatures the Nordic region, and that includes actual cities, not some village in the Highlands. Thus the Finns might easily have a point.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    iPhone usage in the cold

    If it's -25 outside, I'm assuming people aren't going to be hanging around playing Angry Birds on their iPhones (particularly as you can't use one with gloves on), so it seems reasonable to assume that answering or making calls is what you might be doing.

    Surely Apple can point to the supplied in the box wired handsfree headset and suggest you can still use your phone, leaving it in your nice warm pocket?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Actually, I saw gloves at the store for women last week that claim that they WILL work with iPhones!

      1. Little_Crow
        Thumb Up

        There's an app for that

        Not really, but you can do this yourself with some conducting thread and a pair of gloves

        I first found this on Wu-How, a great program that doesn't get enough credit


    2. Mookster

      What else would you do when you're waiting for the bus?

      nuff said.

    3. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      Re: iPhone usage in the cold

      Yeah, but the story from Norway is that it was that cold OUTSIDE, so therefore the warrantee is void. I would think that the phone was with the owner, and that the owner wasn't at -18°C because if she was, she wouldn't have complaned (she'd be frozen!), but Apple said that because the temperature OUTSIDE was -18°C, no dice.

      I'm with the other comentard; when companies plaster their T&Cs with get-outs, it's nice when they bite back :)

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Noone else? Ok then *sigh*

    "even if the limitation appears in the small print"

    I guess that would be the finnish line for the iPhone.

    Oh, come on, someone had to do that one!

  12. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse
    Thumb Up

    Not sure about the ability to make calls...

    The iPhone camera works at -20. Took mine night skiing and had no problems holding it as I came down the slopes.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Power to the corporates

    Sod the user,

    power to the corporates.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Billy Goats Gruff woke you early today?

  14. Harry

    UK and EU legislators, please copy

    Hiding negative statements in the small print is, almost by definition, a form of intentional deception.

    Companies should be required either to word their big print such that there isn't a requirement to use small print.

    To take an example, Dishonest Dora says "Sandwiches £1 off" and then hides in the small print "offer not available Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Weekends, before 3pm or after 4pm".

    Honest Horace has exactly the same offer, but says "Sandwiches £1 off 3-4pm Wednesdays" all in the same size, typeface and colour. And doesn't need any small print, because he didn't start by deliberately trying to imply something substantially bigger than what he was actually offering.

    1. ElReg!comments!Pierre


      Hey, don't shove, I was leaving anyway.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So naturally Nokia phones are Finnish tough, yes?

    From Nokia N8 user manual:

    Always keep the battery between 15°C and 25°C (59°F and 77°F). Extreme temperatures reduce the capacity and lifetime of the battery. A device with a hot or cold battery may not work temporarily.

    OK not the same as an operating temperature for the whole phone, but amused me anyway.

    1. Chris Parsons

      Why do I need a title to reply to a post?

      That's physics, not Nokia. When it's cold, molecular movement slows down, and the batteries don't work so well.

  16. Phil 7

    Nokia 6300

    The year before last I was on the slopes in Jasna, Slovakia trying to talk the office through a server reboot. Every 5 minutes my 6300 would switch off and I would have to warm it up again to get it working. It was -23

    1. Edwin

      and @tough Finnish phones...

      Nokia states that your battery may not work at these temperatures.

      This is subtly different from Apple claiming the warranty is void if you try to use your iPhone below freezing.

  17. Michael C

    no issues for me

    3 snow storms this year thus far, VERY rare for where I am, and one day at just 7 F, while we spent an hour and a half outside building snow men and playing with our child, iPhone exposed to the elements most of that time since both of our digital cameras refused to work after about 10-15 minutes at that temp.

    I found, even at near 10 degrees F, I could not keep the iPhone in my hand more than 5 minutes or so without handing it off the the wife and putting my gloves back on. For several periods of about 10 minutes each, we set it on the porch and continued to play. At no time did I see anything more than a sluggish LCD, and that was only after an extended period of no activity. The phone recoded video, made calls, and uploaded to the net without issue. I can't imagine using it outside in any lower temps for more than a few minutes, especially in contact with one's face to make calls. My bluetooth headset failed quick in those temps.

    Super cold, below zero F, I don't imaging anyone's phone is likely to work in those temps for very long unless it has some form of heated casing. If they're making Apple refund phones, they better be making everyone else do so as well, unless the phones are in fact rated to below those temps (which LCD itself can't be, so it would have to be some odd display tech special made for artic temps).

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Halo

    Cold or humidity

    This kind of "no warranty" warranty behaviour has been around for a while. In New Zealand, the mobile phone companies would refuse to honour warranties because the humidity sticker inside the battery case had turned red - trouble is that Wellington and points south are all so humid and damp in the winter that the sticker would change colour even if the phone had never got physically wet.

    FWIW - I have used my iphone skiing in CO and on business in Quebec City in temperatures below -20ºC. The battery doesn't last long in those temps, but the phone functions as long as there's power.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Just a thought

    If the warranty is effectively worthless below zero, does this mean that I can also hack around with my kit without Apple moaning if it's below zero too?

  20. Azzy

    You don't sell a phone in Finland that doesn't work below zero.

    The issue at hand is not whether the phone fails under sub-zero conditions (it sounds like it usually works, just with poor battery performance and a sluggish LCD). The issue is whether trying to use it under sub-zero conditions voids the warranty - which it apparently does.

    It's not reasonable to sell a cell phone (or any other product) in Finland (or Alaska, for that matter) when normal use in that locale's climate is sufficient to void the warranty. It would seem as though that condition in the agreement would void the warranty of anyone who used their iphone outdoors in the winter in Finland!

    Now that I think about, it, if the key variable is the ambient temperature, and the spec is 0 C, that would effect most of the temperate world! If the key variable is the internal temperature of the phone, what is the mechanism for the user to monitor the internal temperature of their phone to determine whether it can be used without voiding the warranty? If it was in my jacket pocket, it was warmer than the outside air, but by how much?

  21. Anonymous Coward

    Below Freezing

    Operation below freezing (0C or 32F) is a pretty weak criteria. Even in the US, in say, New England cities like Boston, it's common to spend much of January-March never getting above 25F (-4C) during the day with it getting down to -5F (-20C) at night.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not so big of a deal


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Jobs Horns

      Don't try to impersonate me!

      Don't expect my phones to work below freezing until Hell itself freezes over. And even when that happens, don't expect any warranty coverage anyway, even though my most loyal customer service employees will already be on-site, partnering with Satan to deliver exemplary after-sales customer care.

      Sent from my iPho... <signal lost, temperature fell below 0C>

  23. Andrew Jones 2

    retailer refunds....

    If lot's of people end up getting refunds from whoever they got the phone from in the first place - which I assume to be the mobile carrier -

    I rather suspect that said mobile carrier may refuse to do business with Apple in the future....

    I agree with some points raised here -

    Whether the phone WORKS below 0'C is not the point - the point is whether Apple refuse to honour the warranty because the phone has been taken outside of it's specified operating range.

    The second point is "Winters of southern Finland (average day time temperature is below 0 °C/32 °F) are usually 4 months long, and the snow typically covers the land from middle of December to early April." (taken from Wikipedia) clearly if the climate means the phone should not be used outside for 4 months of the year - it is not fit for the purpose for which it was designed.

    Clearly Apple could get very smart arsey here and point out that a mobile phone is a portable phone - but there are no guarantees either implied or otherwise about the phones ability to work in an outside environment. But of course that would open a whole new can of worms in that they would effectively be admitting that the iPhone is only built to work in a normal indoor environment.

    Guess we just wait and see what magical and well thought response they come out with for this one...... (it could after all be a feature..... to stop you going outside in silly temperatures and either freezing or suffering heat exhaustion........)

  24. Darryl

    Bah, you kids and your cold... When I was your age...

    We've just gone through a week of -25 days and -33 nights, and I saw lots of people using their iPhones, Androids, Blackberries, and dumb phones outside. My old BB Curve worked fine outside.

    I think this is just a get-out-of-warranty-free clause for Apple in case they don't feel like fixing/replacing the phone, and I applaud the Finnish gov't for challenging it.

  25. Spanners Silver badge


    Turn on the GPS!

    That will keep any phone warm and allegedly the iphone has been criticised for this in the past.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Noit new opinion from ombudsman...

    I remember the consumer ombudsman of Finland in TV program using mobile phones and local climate as a example when no clause in guarantee can get the manufacturer out of hot water, two decades ago. In the same program they explained that a even if a washing machine has a one year guarantee the manufacturer has to repair the machine after it if the fault was cause d by design error. Any design fault within reaconable usage age, abbout 5 years with washing machines.

    So if they used mobile phones and freezing weather as a exaple when guarantee clauses are invalid 20 years ago it's no wonder they are saying those clauses are invalid still.

    btw. There's a difference of not working in freezing weather, as most LCD:s are prone to slowing down, and breaking, as the norwegian iPhone did. Slowing down is acceptable, breaking isn't. And in Finland consumers expects phone to work when it's freezing.

  27. Remy Redert

    @Jason Togneri, wrt Nokia phones

    I don't know about the newer models (Think, anything designed in the 21st century), but my old brick of a Nokia phone with its monochrome LCD and 2+ week standby time really was tough as nails. It's survived everything from being run over by a car, dropped from a third story balcony onto concrete (The casing flew off, but was easily reattached) and dropped in a swimming pool (Continued to work even immediately after immersion, opened up and left to dry inside).

    At least some of those old phone designs really were nigh-indestructible.

    My current phone is an HTC Magic, which I've been a lot more careful with on account of it costing considerably more than the ~25 euros equivalent I paid for that old Nokia phone back in the day.

  28. mhenriday

    Three cheers for the Finnish Consumer Agency !

    Would only that its counterpart here in Sweden would have the courage to do the same ! But alas, our authorities, unlike the Finns, are well-behaved, fully house-broken poodles to US corporations, as demonstrated in the farcicial Pirate Bay trials....


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