Lawyers in New York have filed a class action lawsuit against Apple, saying that the iOS 9 operating system upgrade slowed their older iPhone 4S handsets into uselessness.
"Plaintiff and other class members were faced with a difficult decision: use a buggy, slow device that disrupts everyday life or spend hundreds of dollars to buy another smartphone," reads the lawsuit spotted by Apple Insider.
When iOS 9 was released in September, the operating system was supposed to fix many of the faults of its predecessors. But the owners of more than 100 iPhone 4S handsets claim Apple knew the new OS would be virtually unusable on the older hardware but released it anyway to force people to upgrade.
To add insult to injury, Apple won't allow the aggrieved users to uninstall iOS 9 and go back to simpler times. So 4S owners are left stuck with sluggish screens, hanging apps, and lousy touch use, the lawsuit claims.
Apple's internal testing must have shown these effects while the operating system was being developed, but Cook & Co nevertheless advertised the new operating system's benefits without warning of obsolescent hardware, the plaintiff's lawyers argue.
Furthermore, the seductiveness of Apple's software ecosystem meant that the plaintiffs couldn't easily move to the competition, the lawsuit claims. Apple knew this and still pushed out the OS update to encourage upgrade, so lawyers want Cupertino to pay up a sliver of its massive earnings.
One suspects Apple's response will be "well what did you expect?" The iPhone 4S runs a 32-bit A5 processor and packs 512MB of DDR2 RAM, compared to the iPhone 6S's A9 64-bit core with the M9 coprocessor and 2GB of DDR4 memory. Expecting similar performance ignores certain technical realities.
The upgrade cycle has been part of the tech industry since the dawn of computing. Microsoft and Intel's entire business plans were built around releasing ever more complex operating systems that required hardware upgrades to run them.
That worked well until PC processors got powerful enough to adequately run more apps, at which point the raison d'etre of many resellers crashed – but smartphone processors are further down the development cycle. It's going to be difficult to argue that users of generations' old kit should be compensated when things aren't so spiffy. ®