Apple set to pay $53M in water-damaged iPhone warranty dispute

Apple(s AAPL) has a policy against replacing water-damaged iOS devices and now it’s going to pay for it. Wired got its hands on a settlement of a class action lawsuit between the company and iPhone and iPod touch owners in San Francisco who say Apple failed to honor their warranties. Apple has agreed to pay $53 million, according to the documents.

Anyone who’s had to have an iPhone replaced at an Apple Store Genius Bar is familiar with the process of checking for damage, which includes an employee using a tool to see if the device has ever gotten wet. It turns out that the water-detection method may not have provided totally clear-cut evidence. From Wired:

According to several lawsuits combined in San Francisco, no matter what the problem, Apple refused to honor warranties if a white indicator tape embedded in the phone near the headphone or charging portals had turned pink or red. However, the tape’s maker, 3M, said humidity, and not water contact, could have caused the color to at least turn pink.

The lawsuit covers older iPhones and iPod touch devices, and the petitioners may get around $200 cash payout each. That might be a somewhat meaningful amount for customers who had to pay for another phone. But the total, $53 million, is a drop in the bucket for a company with about $140 billion on hand.

Image courtesy of Flickr user JD Hancock via Compfight cc