Sunday, June 16, 2024

Apple faces new legal action in the UK around iPhone “Batterygate”

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In brief: Apple’s “Batterygate” problem from 2017 isn’t going away. A consumer rights activist in the UK is launching a new class action lawsuit against the company for throttling processor performance on iPhones with aging batteries. If successful, up to 25 million British consumers will be entitled to a small settlement.

In 2017, Apple decided to secretly throttle performance on iPhones with aging batteries so that they would last longer and have fewer chances to experience an unexpected shutdown during peak power draw. The feature came in an update without user notification and without a way to reconfigure the throttling setting.

Apple’s actions cost it hundreds of millions in a US class-action settlement and a separate probe by 34 states into the Cupertino giant’s maligned battery practices. Add to that a $27 million fine from French regulators and the cost of replacing 11 million batteries for a reduced price, and you’d think that Apple saw the last bit of punishment for its lack of transparency regarding the “Batterygate” phenomenon.

However, a new legal claim is brewing in the UK that could see Apple take a further financial hit of £750 million ($926 million). The class action was initiated by market researcher and consumer rights activist Justin Gutmann, who filed the claim with the Competition Appeals Tribunal. If successful, it would allow 25 million people in the country who bought an iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6S, 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus, iPhone SE, or iPhone X to receive a settlement for having been left in the dark about the battery management feature that added to their devices.

Gutmann argues that Apple should have been transparent about the throttling issue but instead chose to disguise that its software upgrades were too much to handle for devices with degraded batteries. Apple did acknowledge the problem in 2017 and has since added a toggle in Settings under Battery Health, but Gutman is launching the case “so that millions of iPhone users across the UK will receive redress for the harm suffered by Apple’s actions.”

In a statement sent to The Guardian, Apple 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.”

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