- Noor Nanji
- Economics correspondent, BBC News
Millions of iPhone users may be eligible for monetary damages, after a lawsuit was filed accusing Apple of secretly slowing down the performance of older phones.
Justin Gutman claims that the company misled users about an update that it said would boost performance but actually slow down phones.
Gottman is seeking compensation of about £768 million for up to 25 million iPhone users in the UK.
Apple says it “did not intentionally shorten” the life of its products.
The lawsuit, which was submitted to the Court of Appeals, which specializes in commercial competition cases, alleges that Apple slowed the performance of old iPhones in order to avoid expensive phone recalls or repairs.
It’s about the inclusion of a power management tool that was released in an iPhone update in January 2017, to combat performance issues and prevent older devices from suddenly shutting down.
Guttman, of Consumer Champion, says that information about the released tool was not included in the description of the software update download at the time, and that the company failed to explain that it would slow devices down.
He claims that Apple introduced this tool to hide the fact that iPhone batteries may have found it difficult to run the latest iOS software, and that instead of recalling and recalling those phones or offering replacement batteries, the company instead pushed users to download software updates.
Instead of doing the honorable and legal things to their customers and offering a free replacement, repair or compensation service, Apple instead misled them by hiding a tool in software updates that slowed their devices by up to 58 percent.
The lawsuit includes the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 6SE, iPhone 7, 7 Plus, iPhone 8, 8 Plus and iPhone X versions.
The lawsuit is optional, which means that clients will not need to join the lawsuit to receive damages.
“We have never, and will never, do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or reduce the effectiveness of users’ devices to drive them to buy newer devices,” Apple said in a statement.
“Our goal has always been to produce products that our customers love, and making iPhones last as long as possible is an important part of that,” she added.
Gottman’s claim comes two years after a similar case was settled in the United States.
In 2020, Apple agreed to pay $113 million to settle allegations that it slowed down older iPhones.
Thirty-three US states alleged that Apple did so to get users to buy newer devices.
Millions of people were affected when their iPhone 6, 7 and SE devices slowed down in 2016 in a scandal dubbed Patrigate.
At the time, Apple declined to comment, but previously said the phones were slowed down to conserve aging battery life.
Claire Holobowski, an analyst at research firm Enders, said issues like this may continue to emerge, given the technical limitations of older batteries.
“Technology in newer devices is improving at breakneck speed, but it’s not on a steady path, which creates problems when releasing software updates that often have to work on devices with vastly different capabilities.”
“Apple generates 84 percent of its revenue from selling new devices, which makes it reluctant to hold back updates to ensure older models continue to run smoothly,” Holobovsky explained.
“Until hardware issues and software updates that exceed and exceed the capabilities of aging batteries are resolved, this challenge will be repeated,” she added.
“Reader. Infuriatingly humble travel enthusiast. Extreme food scholar. Writer. Communicator.”