Apple facing 8 lawsuits for wanton slowing down of iPhones

The lawsuits, affecting the iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, iPhone SE and iPhone 7, seek unspecified damages, and in some cases reimbursement and even barring Apple to throttle the performance of its iPhones.

Following Apple’s admission of slowing down ageing iPhones, eight lawsuits have been filed this week in federal courts with the lawsuits claiming that Cupertino has defrauded its iPhone consumers by slowing down devices without warning to compensate for poor battery performance.

According to the lawsuits, all of which have been filed in U.S. District Courts in California, New York and Illinois, Apple’s tweaks may have led iPhone owners to misguided attempts to resolve issues over the last year.

All of the lawsuits are seeking class-action status to represent potentially millions of iPhone owners across the U.S.

Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported that a similar case was lodged in an Israeli court on Monday.

Apple did not respond to an email seeking comment on the filings.

Last week, Apple acknowledged for the first time, in detail, that the updates to its iPhone OS, since “last year”, for devices including the iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, iPhone SE and iPhone 7 included a feature “to smooth out” power supply from batteries that have gone cold, old or low on charge.

Apple clarified that without these adjustments, these devices would shutdown abruptly in order to save their components from getting fried.

Apple’s disclosure comes in the wake of a December 18 analysis by Primate Labs, which develops an iPhone performance measuring app, that identified blips in processing speed and concluded that a software change had to be behind them.

As per one of the lawsuits that was filed last Thursday in San Francisco, “the batteries’ inability to handle the demand created by processor speeds” without the software patch was a defect. “Rather than curing the battery defect by providing a free battery replacement for all affected iPhones, Apple sought to mask the battery defect”.

One of the key issues that these cases against Apple bring up is that previously whereas user complaints of sluggish performance may have been squarely laid on an ageing processors and components, the true cause however may have been Apple slowing down the performance of the phone, thus forcing consumers to buy a new phone rather than simply change the phone’s battery, state some of the lawsuits.

its devices“If it turns out that consumers would have replaced their battery instead of buying new iPhones had they known the true nature of Apple’s upgrades, you might start to have a better case for some sort of misrepresentation or fraud,” said Rory Van Loo, a Boston University professor specializing in consumer technology law.

Countering this line of argument was Chris Hoofnagle, faculty director for the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology, who said Apple may not have done any wrong.

“We still haven’t come to consumer protection norms” around aging products, said Hoofnagle. Pointing to a device with a security flaw as an example, he said, “the ethical approach could include degrading or even disabling functionality.”

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