A consumer champion has filed a £750million lawsuit against Apple linked to an incident in 2017 involving a power management tool on older iPhone models.
Justin Gutmann has accused the tech giant of slowing down iPhone phone performance – a process known as “throttling” – by hiding a power management tool in software updates to combat performance issues and prevent older devices from suddenly shutting down be shut down.
Mr Gutmann has filed a claim with the Competition Appeal Tribunal for around £768million in damages for up to 25million UK owners of a range of older iPhone models.
It is alleged that Apple misled users about the incident by urging them to download software updates, which it said would improve the performance of some devices but actually slowed them down.
The allegation relates to the introduction of a power management tool released in a January 2017 software update for iPhone users that was introduced to help older iPhone models with aging batteries that may have had trouble upgrading the latest Running iOS software to prevent abrupt device shutdowns.
Mr. Gutmann said information about this tool was not included in the software update’s download description at the time or that it would slow down a user’s device.
He claims Apple introduced this tool to cover up the fact that iPhone batteries couldn’t cope with the new iOS processing demands and that the company pushed users to download the software updates rather than recall products or replace batteries.
The legal claim says Apple later mentioned the tool in the update’s release notes on its website, but the company didn’t clarify that it would slow down older iPhones.
In late 2017, after some users noticed performance issues, Apple apologized for addressing the issue and said it would replace batteries at a heavily discounted price for a limited time and also introduce a feature that would allow users to turn off the power management tool.
At the time, the company said it had never done anything and would never do anything to intentionally shorten a product’s lifespan, and Apple CEO Tim Cook publicly apologized for the incident, saying the company never tried to tell anyone about the tool to mislead.
However, Mr Gutmann alleges that Apple failed to adequately disclose its £25 battery replacement service plus return postage prices and that the company had abused its dominant position.
The claim relates to the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6S, 6S Plus, SE, 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus and iPhone X models.
It demands compensation for each model owned and is an opt-out claim, meaning customers do not have to be actively involved in the case to claim damages.
“Rather than doing the honorable and legal cause of their customers and offering a free replacement, repair service, or compensation, Apple has instead misled people by hiding a tool in software updates that upgrades their devices by up to 58% % slowed down,” said Mr. Gutmann.
“I’m bringing this case to help millions of iPhone users across the UK get redress for the damage suffered as a result of Apple’s actions.
“If this case is successful, I hope that dominant companies will reassess their business models and refrain from this type of behavior.”
In a statement, Apple said, “We have never and would never do anything to intentionally shorten the lifespan of an Apple product or compromise the user experience to drive customer upgrades.
“Our goal has always been to create products our customers love, and making sure iPhones last as long as possible is an important part of that.”