Back in 2017, Apple admitted that it released an update to slow down older iPhones with aging batteries to prevent them from suddenly shutting down. It's been five years since then, but Apple still isn't done dealing with its repercussions. According to The Guardian, the tech giant is now facing a legal claim in the UK filed by a consumer rights campaigner named Justin Gutmann at the Competition Appeals Tribunal. Gutmann argued that Apple didn't disclose that it was going to deliberately throttle users' phone before it did so and that the company didn't give them the option to disable the setting.
The complaint covers the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6S, 6S Plus, SE, 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus and iPhone X models. If you'll recall, the company originally released the update that intentionally slows down devices for the iPhone 6, 6s and SE before it expanded the feature's reach to more devices. Guttman's complaint said Apple introduced the slowdown feature to disguise the fact that older batteries could no longer cope with new OS updates. "Instead of doing the honourable and legal thing by their customers and offering a free [battery] 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," Guttman said.
If Guttman wins, Apple may have to pay damages totaling up to £750 million to over 25 million people who purchased the affected phones in the UK. The company was previously fined €10 million in Italy over the same issue and for failing to provide customers with the necessary information for maintaining and replacing batteries. In 2020, it also agreed to pay up to $500 million to settle one of the US lawsuits it faced over the iPhone slowdown, which earned each claimant who took part up to $25.
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."