Apple in Reported Deal over iPhone Moisture Strips

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A $53 million settlement may vindicate some iPhone owners who say Apple failed to honor its product warranties for certain repairs to its popular smart phones.

A document that appears to be a settlement signed by Apple chief litigation counsel Noreen Krall on April 10 was first reported by Wired Magazine.

The settlement is related to an indicator in Apple iPhones that show if a product has been damaged by water.

According to the document, "liquid contact indicator" is the name Apple used from Dec. 22, 2009 to describe a water contact indicator tape it purchased from the 3M Company and installed in iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS.

Under Apple's "former liquid damage policy," the company denied coverage under its standard warranty of one-year, or the extended warranty two-year AppleCare Protection Plan, for an iPhone whose headphone jack and/or dock connector "liquid contact indicator" was pink or red when presented for repair or replacement on or before Dec. 31, 2009, the document states. The same description described an iPod Touch when presented for repair or replacement on or before June 30, 2010.

According to Wired, 3M has said humidity could have caused the color strip to at least turn pink.

3M did not respond to a request for comment.

"The Wired story was the result of a leaked document and we are unable to discuss the case right now," wrote Jeffrey Fazio, one of the attorneys listed as class counsel in the document, in an email to ABC News.

"This is an age old problem with phones: the whole idea with high humidity causing the moisture indicator to show a phone was immersed in water," said Mike Gikas, Consumer Reporter senior editor, electronics.

Gikas said because the attention this time is on a "high profile phone maker with a good reputation," the quality of these mechanisms is likely to improve.

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Gikas compared the alleged problems with the moisture indicator to that of the antenna problems that were dubbed "antennagate" for the iPhone 4. The company did not admit wrongdoing but offered customers a free case or $15.

"They're not necessarily admitting responsibility for the problem but willing to address it for customer satisfaction. That's one area where Apple rarely lets anyone down: customer satisfaction. They may not admit a problem but they still try to make you happy."

Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

Wired reports that the document is "set to be filed in a San Francisco federal court in the coming weeks." If it is filed, the settlement would need a judge's approval to move forward.