The China Consumers Association, the government-backed consumer rights watchdog, has questioned Apple over complaints that its iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s models suddenly shut down without warning.
The association said in a statement posted on its website on Tuesday that it had received a “relatively large” number of complaints about the issue, without detailing numbers.
The problem occurs when the phones have about 50 to 60 per cent of their battery charged, or after a operating upgrade, or if the phone is at a low or “moderate” temperature, the association said.
The watchdog, whose funding mainly comes from the government, said it would keep pursuing the matter to safeguard consumers’ rights.
Apple did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
The complaints about the phones shutting down have been circulating on Chinese internet chat rooms and bulletin boards for a while, but it is the first time a state affiliated agency has stepped in.
The consumer rights agency has asked Apple to clarify what the reasons are behind the shutdowns, if there any problems with the phones’ battery and what the company has done to handle complaints about the issue. It also wants the company to say what it will do to correct any problem.
Apple has been given “within 10 working days” to reply to the queries by the association.
The incident comes as Apple’s share in China’s smartphone market is shrinking due to fierce competition from local manufacturers such as Huawei Technologies, Xiaomi and Oppo.
Revenues from Greater China for Apple plunged nearly 30 per cent in the third quarter of this year.
China, however, remains a key market for the US giant.
The mainland has overtaken the United States to become the largest market for Apple’s App Store, according to the mobile analytics firm App Annie.
Apple has had hardware quality problems in China before.
Shortly after release, some users found the iPhone 6 bent when carried under pressure in a tight pocket. Apple responded by saying such cases were “extremely rare”.