Slowing iPhones: UK consumer advocate sues over iPhone throttling

Apple actually considered the affair of the performance throttling of iPhones to be over: as early as December 2017, the company had to admit that devices at the time reduced their system performance when the battery capacity was too low, in order to prevent the smartphones from simply switching off. There were allegations that Apple was operating a planned obsolescence here.

Public apologies and various technical measures followed, and new batteries were offered at lower prices for a certain period of time. Apple itself had initially defended the secret function as “battery management”. But the topic is not over: Now a well-known British consumer activist wants to roll up the iPhone performance choke again and is suing for a high amount in the millions.

Justin Gutmann, who also works as a market researcher, submitted the case to the Competition Appeals Tribunal in London. He hopes owners of affected 2017 models will receive compensation. The activist believes the total could be as high as £750m. A total of 25 million devices could be affected, including the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6S, 6S Plus, 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus, X and SE, such as the Guardian reports.

Gutmann argues that Apple has kept the power throttling secret from its users in an attempt to hide the inability of older iPhone batteries to meet new power demands. Rather than issue a battery recall or replacement program — or admit that newer versions of iOS may have issues with older devices — Apple pushed through an update that “improves device performance [der Nutzer] reduced”. The throttling was up to 58 percent of the overall performance.

In a statement to the Guardian, Apple said it had “never – and never would – willingly shorten the life of any Apple product.” The same applies to degrading the user experience in order to encourage new purchases by customers. The lawsuit is far from the only one against Apple over the power throttling. Fines in the millions had to be paid in Europe, local consumer advocates demanded compensation and in the USA there was a class action lawsuit for which Apple had to shell out a total of 310 million US dollars – a maximum of 25 dollars per device. The procedure in Great Britain would nevertheless have a special dimension.

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