A US iPhone throttling compensation claim was settled back in 2020, when Apple agreed to pay up to $500M for intentionally slowing older iPhones with degraded batteries to prevent them shutting down. Now a UK claim has been filed, seeking a total of $750M ($910M) damages for British owners of affected iPhones.

The complaint has been filed by Justin Gumann, a retired market researcher who has since turned consumer advocate …

Background

The controversy dates back to 2016, when a significant number of iPhone 6s models were affected by random shutdowns.

Apple subsequently determined that these were due to degraded batteries being unable to meet peak power requirements, so decided to quietly fix the issue by detecting this battery degradation and throttling performance to match the available power. It did this in an iOS update, which was applied to other iPhone models too.

The company chose not to disclose this action, but it was subsequently discovered by Geekbench founder John Poole in 2017 – following which Apple went public on the throttling, explaining its reasons. It later offered a subsidised battery replacement service for affected phones.

In 2018, the company added a Battery Health feature which allowed users to check the capacity of their battery, and to disable the throttling if desired.

Apple was hit with dozens of class action lawsuits over the issue, and the biggest of these was settled in 2020, when Apple agreed to pay a total of $500M in damages to US owners of effected models.

UK iPhone throttling compensation claim

The Guardian reports that a similar complaint has now been filed in the UK.

Apple is facing a multimillion-pound legal claim that could reimburse millions of iPhone owners over a secret decision to slow down older phones in 2017 […]

Justin Gutmann, a consumer rights campaigner, has launched a claim against Apple over the decision at the Competition Appeals Tribunal. If he wins, the company could be forced to pay damages of more than £750m, spread out between the approximately 25 million people who bought one of the affected phones. The claim relates to the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6S, 6S Plus, SE, 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus and iPhone X models […]

“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%,” Gutmann said.

“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.

There are two key differences between the US class action lawsuit and the UK complaint. First, the UK case is not actually a lawsuit, but rather a complaint to a competition regulator. It is up to the regulator to make a decision, and either party could then challenge this.

Second, if compensation is awarded, there will be no lawyer’s cut to deduct. Even so, the total sum being claimed would only see owners awarded £30 ($36), so no one should start planning M2 MacBook Air purchases with the proceeds.

If the decision goes against Apple, details will then be provided on how to make a claim. Generally this involves providing proof that you owned an affected model during the relevant dates.

Apple said that its motives were to make older iPhones last as long as possible.

“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,” Apple said in a statement on Thursday. “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.” iPhones now include a report in the settings menu, under “battery health”, that discloses whether the throttling is in effect.

9to5Mac’s Take

With everything now known, it seems pretty clear that Apple’s actions were well-intentioned, performance throttling being preferable to random shutdowns. Where the company ran into trouble was failing to disclose the decision.

Given the US precedent, it seems likely that the tribunal will award compensation, though it may not agree with the amount claimed. Should this indeed be the case, Apple will likely accept that decision without challenge.

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Published: 2022-06-16 11:38:27 ,

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