Apple battery issue: Millions of iPhone users could get payouts in legal action.
Millions of iPhone users could be eligible for payouts following the launch of a legal claim accusing Apple of secretly slowing down the batteries of older phones.
Justin Gutmann alleges the company misled users over an upgrade that it said would enhance performance but slowed phones down.
He is seeking damages of around £768m for up to 25 million UK iPhone users.
Apple says it has “never” intentionally shortened its product life.
The claim, filed with the Competition Appeal Tribunal, alleges Apple slowed down the performance of older iPhones in a process known as “throttling” to avoid expensive recalls or repairs.
It relates to introducing a power management tool released in a software update to iPhone users in January 2017 to combat performance issues and stop older devices from abruptly shutting down.
Mr. Gutmann, a consumer champion, says the information about the tool was not included in the software update download description at the time and that the company failed to clarify that it would slow down devices.
He claims that Apple introduced this tool to hide the fact that iPhone batteries may have struggled to run the latest iOS software and that rather than recalling products or offering replacement batteries, the firm pushed users to download the software updates.
Mr. Gutmann said: “Instead of doing the honorable and legal thing by their customers and offering a free replacement, repair service or compensation, Apple misled people by concealing a tool in software updates that slowed their devices by up to 58%.”
Apple battery issue
The models the claim cover are the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6S, 6S Plus, SE, 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus, and iPhone X models.
It is an opt-out claim, which means customers will not need to join the case to seek damages actively.
In a statement, Apple said: “We never have, and would never, do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades.
“Our goal has always been to create products that our customers love, and making iPhones last as long as possible is an important part.”
The claim by Mr. Gutmann comes two years after a similar case was settled in the United States.
In 2020, Apple agreed to pay $113m to settle allegations that it slowed down older iPhones.
Thirty-three US states claimed that Apple had done this to drive users into buying new devices.
Millions of people were affected when the models of iPhone 6 and 7 and SE were slowed down in 2016 in a scandal dubbed batterygate.
At the time, Apple declined to comment; however, it had previously said the phones were slowed to preserve aging battery life.
Claire Holubowskyj, an analyst at Enders Analysis, said issues like this might continue to crop up, given the technical limitations of aging batteries.
“Technology in newer devices improves in leaps and bounds, not as a steady crawl, creating issues when releasing software updates which have to work on devices with often wildly different capabilities,” Ms. Holubowskyj said.
“Apple generates 84% of its revenue from selling new devices, making them reluctant to hold back updates to ensure older models keep working smoothly.”
She added: “Until problems of devices and software updates outlasting and exceeding the capabilities of aging batteries are resolved, this challenge will recur.”
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