iPhone Users Could Receive Millions from Lawsuit Alleging Intentional Wrongdoing
Apple is facing yet another massive lawsuit over allegations that it intentionally slowed down older models of its iPhone.
According to the BBC, Justin Gutmann is suing Apple for approximately £768 million, which is equivalent to nearly $940 million. The payouts would be distributed to as many as 25 million iPhone users in the United Kingdom.
The outlet described Gutmann as a “consumer champion,” and he filed the suit with the Competition Appeal Tribunal. It accused Apple of “throttling” older products to avoid having to recall or repair them.
In January 2017, Apple included a power management tool in one of its software updates, BBC reported. It was supposed to address the issue of some phones spontaneously shutting down.
However, Gutmann said the software update failed to disclose what the tool would actually do: intentionally slow down batteries.
He said the batteries in some older phones were struggling to run new iOS software, and Apple intentionally slowed them down by as much as 58 percent as a result.
“Instead of doing the honorable and legal thing by their customers and offering a free replacement, repair service or compensation, Apple instead misled people by concealing a tool in software updates that slowed their devices by up to 58 percent,” Gutmann said, according to BBC.
The iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6S, 6S Plus, SE, 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus and iPhone X are all included in the lawsuit. It is an opt-out claim, which means iPhone users could receive damages without actively joining the suit, the BBC reported.
Apple denied all wrongdoing in a statement of its own.
“We have never, and would never, do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades,” the statement said according to the BBC.
“Our goal has always been to create products that our customers love, and making iPhones last as long as possible is an important part of that.”
Gutmann and other critics said the power management tool was aimed at forcing people to buy newer iPhone models. Apple, on the other hand, said it was trying to make older models last a long as possible.
The U.K. lawsuit is eerily similar to other lawsuits filed in the United States in 2020, NPR reported. In November of that year, Apple agreed to a $113 million settlement over allegations it intentionally slowed down phones, which came to be known as “batterygate.”
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said many users felt they had no other choice but to buy a new iPhone model, which he believed was Apple’s goal all along.
“Many consumers decided that the only way to get improved performance was to purchase a newer-model iPhone from Apple,” Brnovich said. “Apple, of course, fully understood such effects on sales.”
Brnovich and other state investigators estimated the efforts boosted iPhone sales “potentially by millions of devices per year,” NPR reported.
The settlement was to be distributed among over 30 states that brought allegations against Apple. In Arizona, Brnovich said the the funds would be used to pay for attorneys’ fees and to “fund future consumer protection investigations.”
“Big Tech companies must stop manipulating consumers and tell them the whole truth about their practices and products,” Brnovich said at the time.
“I’m committed to holding these Goliath technology companies to account if they conceal the truth from their users.”
Even before that settlement, Apple agreed to a $500 million settlement in March 2020 over similar allegations that it slowed down iPhones, Reuters reported. It called for the company to pay $25 per iPhone.
The settlement required iPhone users to file a claim in order to receive payment, and a website for users to do so was created in July 2020, The Verge reported.
Since Apple agreed to settlements in both of those lawsuits in the United States, it was not officially found guilty in court. While this latest lawsuit in the U.K. is still ongoing, it casts yet another dark cloud over the big tech company.
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