Apple may have to cough up $1bn to Brits in latest iPhone Batterygate claim

Lawsuit took its time, just like your older iOS handset


Another day, another legal claim against Apple for deliberately throttling the performance of its iPhones to save battery power.

This latest case was brought by Justin Gutmann, who has asked the UK's Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) to approve a collective action that could allow as many as 25 million Brits to claim compensation from the American technology giant. He claims the iGiant secretly degraded their smartphones' performance to make the battery power last longer.

Apple may therefore have to cough up an eye-popping £768 million ($927 million), Gutmann's lawyers estimated, Bloomberg first reported this week.

Gutmann, a market researcher, is unhappy that the iPhone maker emitted an iOS update that would throttle the execution of software on handsets. According to Apple back in 2017 around the time this Batterygate saga unfolded, the throttling was to ensure the batteries, particularly worn-out ones with lower capacity, wouldn't be drained by apps at a rate that would cause devices to unexpectedly power off.

We can quite imagine people rushing out to upgrade their phones after experiencing a slowdown, too, conveniently enough for Apple.

The iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6S, 6S Plus, SE, 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus and iPhone X models were all affected by this change, it was claimed this week.

That was fast – unlike old iPhones: Apple sued for slowing down phones

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"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 percent," he told The Guardian. 

"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. If this case is successful, I hope dominant companies will re-evaluate their business models and refrain from this kind of conduct."

If the CAT approves Gutmann's case, Apple will face yet another battle-throttling lawsuit. The biz has already been sued by folks and attorneys general representing different states in the US, as well as a consumer-rights group in Italy. Apple paid $113 million and over $310 million to settle claims. 

"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 told The Guardian, repeating past statements on the matter. "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. Apple also offered battery replacements for some older iPhones.

The Register has asked Cupertino for comment. ®


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