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Apple Deliberately Slowed Older iPhones Via Updates Class Action

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Apple iPhone 7

Do Apple updates intentionally slow down older iPhones? This complaint claims that it does, that there’s a partial fix, and that Apple has deliberately not told consumers about either one. The models involved are the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6S, 6S Plus, SE, 7, or 7 Plus.

The Nationwide Class for this action is all persons in the US who have owned iPhone models older than iPhone 8. There is also a California Class and a Consumer Subclass.

According to the complaint, Apple markets the iPhone as a high speed and high-capability device that offers superior performance. Apple also releases operating system updates that purportedly improve the phones’ performance, security, and ability to work with the latest applications.

The complaint claims that in late 2016, users of iPhones 5 and 6 with versions of iOS 10 software reported that their phones were suddenly shutting down. Apple claimed in February 2017 that it had almost entirely resolved the issue with its 10.2.1 upsdate, which it claimed would improve security and “power management during peak workloads” and prolong the life of the device. However, users still experienced slowdowns.

Luckily, there is a partial fix. The complaint claims that replacing the phone’s battery can restore performance by as much as 70%. It says that the battery replacement costs less than $100, while the new iPhone X costs more than $1,000.

Batteries like the lithium-ion battery in the iPhone do become worn with time and use and lose their ability to hold a charge. However, the complaint says, they do not normally reduce performance: “A weakening battery has no effect on device performance unless there is software that links the two.”

According to the complaint, on December 20, 2017, Apple finally admitted that its latest iOS updates deliberately showed the phones’ performance. Apple’s explanation, as quoted in the complaint, was that older batteries “become less capable of supplying peak current demands … which can result in a device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components.” The new operating system, it said, had a feature “to smooth out the instantaneous peaks only when needed to prevent the device from unexpectedly shutting down during these conditions.”

The complaint alleges that Apple did not inform users that updating their phone would “dramatically and artificially reduce the performance of the device” nor were they allowed to choose whether they wanted to accept the trade-off of slower performance.

The complaint lists counts of breach of implied contract, trespass to chattel, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and violations of California laws. 

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