Apple is set to face another class action lawsuit for allegedly, purposefully slowing down performance of older models, in a bid to encourage users to buy new devices. The lawsuit is being filed by consumer rights campaigner Justin Gutmann in the Consumer Appeal Tribunal, London.
Apple will be facing this lawsuit on behalf of 25 million iPhone users in the UK who used any of 10 iPhone models between iPhone 6 and iPhone 10. Gutmann has sued apple for £768 Mn (~$935 Mn).
The lawsuit, filed under competition law, has accused Apple of purposefully throttling peak performance of it’s devices by 58% with the iOS 10.2.1 update. A power management tool was introduced with this updated to disguise the fact that older devices were not capable of handling newer software. Further, the complaint mentioned Apple’s inability to inform the users of this upcoming performance tweak. The devices recieved repeated push notifications promoting the users who hadn’t updated their devices to do the same. The users who did end up installing the update were not given any option to revert their devices to previous software versions.
The lawsuit claims that Apple continued to mislead users despite disclosing about the power management tools, failing to mention anything about performance decline, and only saying the update “improves power management during peak workloads to avoid unexpected shutdowns on iPhone.”
In a statement, Gutmann said “Instead of doing the honourable 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%. I’m launching this case so that millions of iPhone users across the UK will receive redress for the harm suffered by Apple’s actions. If this case is successful, I hope dominant companies will re-evaluate their business models and refrain from this kind of conduct.”
Apple did infact went on to apologise for how they dealt with the situation, and ran a battery replacement drive through 2018, but Gutmann did not seem to pleased by that, accusing the company of not giving the replacement drive enough PR boosts.
Responding to the accusations, Apple, in a statement, said “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. 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.”
The lawsuit is of opt out basis, meaning users wouldn’t have to manually enroll to claim damages. The damages are expected to total up to a measly £30 per user. A webpage has been set up for users to catch up on details and updates.
This would be an addition to Apple’s long list of lawsuits Apple has faced over similar user concerns. In 2020, France’s competition regulatory authority DGCCRF fined Apple $27 Million around similar allegations. 2020 also saw Apple facing litigation in US and Italy over this issue.