iPhone Class Action Lawsuits Claim Apple Intentionally Slows Down Older Phones

In recent weeks, Apple has faced a growing number complaints from irate consumers, and now a number of class action lawsuits, each involving claims that the company intentionally slowed down the performance of older iPhone models, presumably to force consumers to spend hundreds of dollars to buy the latest version of the widely used smartphone. 

At least eight iPhone class action lawsuits have been filed against Apple, Inc. following revelations that it purposefully degraded performance on older models. The company has maintained that software changes referenced in the complaints were designed to help improve poor battery performance in older units, but consumers are not buying that argument.

In one complaint (PDF), filed by Mark Miller, Chris Spearman and Craig Stanford in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas on December 27, the plaintiffs argue that the company intentionally deceived consumers when it asked them to allow software updates to be installed on their older smartphones.

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“Apple promised that its recent iOS 10 and iOS 11 software updates to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 7 models would improve those devices’ performance and it strongly encouraged its customers to accept those updates. But Apple didn’t tell its customers that it had intentionally designed those software updates to slow the devices’ processing speed to correct a battery defect,” the lawsuit states. “Apple then happily took its customers’ money when the customers, dissatisfied with their now-slower devices, purchased new and more expensive iPhones.”

The Apple lawsuits come after the company publicly confirmed consumers’ suspicions in late December, that recent updates to older phones had slowed down their performance. Apple has indicated that it was trying to address battery shutdowns in those phones, but the lawsuits indicate that either the battery is defective and Apple should have replaced all of them, or that the company was trying to pressure consumers into buying new phones.

The latest slowdown hit iPhone 7 users following the release of the iOS 11.2 software update. Software experts analyzed the performance of the phones and posted their findings and suspicions to Reddit.

Apple released the following statement to several major media outlets, attempting to explain its actions:

“Our goal is to deliver the best experience for customers, which includes overall performance and prolonging the life of their devices. Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, have a low battery charge or as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components.

“Last year we released a feature for iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone SE to smooth out the instantaneous peaks only when needed to prevent the device from unexpectedly shutting down during these conditions. We’ve now extended that feature to iPhone 7 with iOS 11.2, and plan to add support for other products in the future.”

The lawsuits seek compensation for all iPhone 6, iPhone 7, and iPhone SE owners nationwide, presenting claims of fraudulent omission, negligent misrepresentation, and tortious interference with property rights.


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