Several lawsuits brought against the US tech giant claim the company defrauded iPhone users by slowing down their phones without warning.
Last week Apple finally admitted to something that had long been suspected. The company had been slowing down older models of iPhone via software updates. The company claimed this was done to keep the phones running at optimal performance and to prolong the life of aging batteries.
But many users feel defrauded by the company have filed lawsuits in the US seeking a call to action status that would potentially represent millions of users.
The lawsuits – filed in the U.S District Courts in the states of California, New York and Illinois make multiple claims including the notion that iPhone users may have attempted or even paid for repairs to their phones, which would have been futile and a waste of time and money.
It’s also been reported that a similar case was raised in a court based in Israel, yet there has been no official confirmation so far. Apple have yet to respond to any requests.
Apple admitted for the first time last week that software updates released since 2016 for older models of iPhone including the iPhone 6, iPhone 6S, iPhone SE and iPhone 7 included a feature aht would affect the power supply coming from the battery in order to the make the phone run more smoothly. That’s not been the case however and many phones appear to have been operating a notably reduced performance level.
One of the lawsuits, filed Thursday in San Francisco, said that “the batteries’ inability to handle the demand created by processor speeds” without the software patch was a defect.
“Rather than curing the battery defect by providing a free battery replacement for all affected iPhones, Apple sought to mask the battery defect,” according to the complaint.
This case is being handled and represented by none other than Jefferey Fazio who fought a 2013 legal battle against Apple and won $53 million dollar in compensation for his clients over the handling of iPhone warranty claims.
Another claim being made by the lawsuits is that because the problems were seen as being a processing issue, users may have opted to purchase new devices – when in actual fact a battery replacement at a fraction of the cost could have fixed the issues.
“If it turns out that consumers would have replaced their battery instead of buying new iPhones had they known the true nature of Apple’s upgrades, you might start to have a better case for some sort of misrepresentation or fraud,” said Rory Van Loo, a Boston University professor specializing in consumer technology law.
However, there is some dispute among legal circles pertaining to wether or not Apple has done wrong. Chris Hoofnagle is the faculty director at the Berkley Centre for Law& Technology and has been quoted stating “We still haven’t come to consumer protection norms” around aging products, Hoofnagle said. Pointing to a device with a security flaw as an example, he said, “the ethical approach could include degrading or even disabling functionality.” This view backs up Apple’s tactics.
Whatever the outcome, the publicity for Apple is not good and it will be interesting to see how the cases play out.