iPhone 7 'Loop Disease' audio chip issue targeted in class action complaint

Posted:
in iPhone edited May 7
A new class action complaint seeks damages and a hardware recall from Apple over the so-called iPhone 7 "Loop Disease," an issue that causes audio problems on impacted handsets and can ultimately render the device inoperable.

iPhone 7 Loop Disease
Apple's audio controller chip (highlighted) in iPhone 7 is at the core of the "loop disease" issue.


Lodged with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, the complaint claims Apple knew of and concealed a hardware defect that renders certain audio features of iPhone 7 and 7 Plus smartphones useless.

Three plaintiffs are named in the suit, each of whom saw their iPhone 7 succumb to a claimed defect. Referred to as an "Audio IC Defect," the symptoms of the apparent hardware issue are identical to those described by users who suffered a previously known problem dubbed "Loop Disease" by some repair industry insiders.

According to the filing, plaintiffs experienced "grayed out" speaker buttons while in calls, loss of voice command capabilities for Siri, an inoperable Voice Memos app, degradation of microphone fidelity and other audio-related issues. Handsets named as defective by the suit were sold between early 2017 and late 2018.

Two plaintiffs encountered the defect after Apple's express warranty expired, meaning they were responsible for repairs or replacements suggested by the company. The third plaintiff, who was informed by Apple that the speaker issues were related to cellular provider AT&T, continues to use their iPhone despite ongoing audio trouble.

The suit attributes the defect to what amounts to poor design. Specifically, iPhone 7's aluminum chassis is made from "substandard materials" that allows for flexion directly over the audio controller attached to the phone's logic board. Over time, solder connecting the audio IC chip to the logic board fails, resulting in a range of problems.

As noted in a 2018 report by Motherboard, independent technicians can fix Loop Disease by removing the audio chip and soldering a small length of wire between it and the logic board. The suit acknowledges the remedy, saying the connected wire allows the chip to remain in electrical contact with the board despite constant bending of the device casing.

Apple faced similar scrutiny -- and a lawsuit -- over a nearly identical hardware issue present in some iPhone 6 models. Dubbed "Touch Disease," the problem was related to broken solder connections on iPhone's touch controller, a result of continual flexing of the device chassis. Degradation of the connection manifested a series of problems, typically starting with the display of a creeping gray bar and ending with an inoperable touch screen.

Apple activated a repair program for Touch Disease and was for a time offering free out-of-warranty repairs on iPhone 7 devices exhibiting grayed-out audio options. The iPhone 7 initiative, which was not officially announced through public channels, has since been terminated.

Citing the out-of-warranty repairs, warranty claims, forum posts from affected customers and an internal repair document acknowledging an iPhone 7 speakerphone problem, the suit claims Apple is aware of Loop Disease, but routinely refuses to conduct repairs without charge.

The suit claims breach of Apple's express warranty, breach of implied warranty, violation of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, various allegations of fraud, negligent misrepresentation and unjust enrichment. Plaintiffs seek class status, damages, attorneys' fees and injunctive relief, the latter of which could include an order forcing Apple to repair, recall or replace impacted iPhones, extend applicable warranties or provide class members notice of the alleged defect.

«13

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 52
    viclauyycviclauyyc Posts: 376member
    When I see reports like this, I don’t always think it is the problem of the manufacturer, in this case Apple, but rather it is American justice system. 

    This is is no longer about consumer rights, it is all about blood sucking lawyers and lobbyists.

    Hot coffee can’t be hot. Knife need a warning label about it will cut you open. It makes me wonder if gun manufacturers put warning on guns about it can kill people. But I guess it doesn’t matter.

    Sorry for bad English.
    mac_dogchaickajdwwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 52
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,516member
    viclauyyc said:
    When I see reports like this, I don’t always think it is the problem of the manufacturer, in this case Apple, but rather it is American justice system. 

    This is is no longer about consumer rights, it is all about blood sucking lawyers and lobbyists.

    Hot coffee can’t be hot. Knife need a warning label about it will cut you open. It makes me wonder if gun manufacturers put warning on guns about it can kill people. But I guess it doesn’t matter.

    Sorry for bad English.
    Let me guess: you didn't spend $1K on an iPhone 7 and have this problem happen to you?
    muthuk_vanalingamGeorgeBMacracerhomie3beowulfschmidtrepressthis
  • Reply 3 of 52
    SoliSoli Posts: 9,360member
    viclauyyc said:
    When I see reports like this, I don’t always think it is the problem of the manufacturer, in this case Apple, but rather it is American justice system. 

    This is is no longer about consumer rights, it is all about blood sucking lawyers and lobbyists.

    Hot coffee can’t be hot. Knife need a warning label about it will cut you open. It makes me wonder if gun manufacturers put warning on guns about it can kill people. But I guess it doesn’t matter.

    Sorry for bad English.
    Bad English is acceptable, but bad reasoning isn't. Can you point to a single establishment that refuses to sell hot coffee? I can't. Should coffee be so hot to help keep it fresher longer that a spill will require skin grafts? I don't think so. And speaking of lawyers, what about a company that uses lawyers to try to stifle the little person that is seeking only to have their medical bills paid. In McDonald's case it ended up backfiring.


    muthuk_vanalingamGeorgeBMacStrangeDaysdysamoriaanomebeowulfschmidt
  • Reply 4 of 52
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,453member
    cpsro said:
    viclauyyc said:
    When I see reports like this, I don’t always think it is the problem of the manufacturer, in this case Apple, but rather it is American justice system. 

    This is is no longer about consumer rights, it is all about blood sucking lawyers and lobbyists.

    Hot coffee can’t be hot. Knife need a warning label about it will cut you open. It makes me wonder if gun manufacturers put warning on guns about it can kill people. But I guess it doesn’t matter.

    Sorry for bad English.
    Let me guess: you didn't spend $1K on an iPhone 7 and have this problem happen to you?
    And all those who did will get a five dollar iTunes coupon and the lawyers will get millions. Name a consumer class action where Apple actually had to cough up big bucks to consumers like getting a brand new device. Never happens. This lawsuit demands a recall. You think that will ever happen? I don’t.
    edited May 4 macxpressmac_dogStrangeDaystycho_macuserllamarepressthis
  • Reply 5 of 52
    chaickachaicka Posts: 162member
    What a world to twisted systems where wear and tear is no longer valid...
  • Reply 6 of 52
    the monkthe monk Posts: 58member
    Geez. These Apple being sued stories has been a regular occurrence. Anyone can file if they can afford the court fees, but are attorneys really profiting from these consumer lawsuits? How many times does Apple settle? How many times are they thrown out by the judge, go to jury trial, or dropped by the plaintiff?

    What would be good is semi-regular series that updates all the Apple consumer lawsuits and their status, sort of like the update on Apple TV+ shows. Such a column will also give us a clearer picture if this Apple Lawsuit niche, money-making machine is really of any value to plaintiff's industry or just a waste of time.  

  • Reply 7 of 52
    DuhSesameDuhSesame Posts: 726member
    I understand what happened to 6, but 7?  Makes me worried about my 6s too since they are the same size.
    I’m glad it’s been working fine other than the battery, which I’ve replaced myself last year.
    edited May 4
  • Reply 8 of 52
    ravnorodomravnorodom Posts: 238member
    Wow. Funny. I just finished making an appointment with Apple Store 10 min ago for my son's iPhone 7's microphone issue. Believe it or not, this is my third time doing this. When I first got his iPhone 7, it was brand new. The microphone stopped working after a few months. Apple gave him a new one and last for only a year. Then Apple gave him yet another new one. This one also last just over a year again. Now I am going back to see them tomorrow. Same problem, every time. Microphone just stopped working out of the blue. This is iPhone 7 specifically.
    dysamoriachemenginrepressthis
  • Reply 9 of 52
    ravnorodomravnorodom Posts: 238member
    DuhSesame said:
    I understand what happened to 6, but 7?  Makes me worried about 6s too, since iPhone 7 is the same size.
    I had iPhone 6 before. It's known for fast battery draining. And on iPhone 5, the screen went black or berserk when the phone gets hot. iPhone 4 is the best problem-free phone I ever had. Finger cross on my current iPhone X.
    edited May 4
  • Reply 10 of 52
    DuhSesameDuhSesame Posts: 726member
    DuhSesame said:
    I understand what happened to 6, but 7?  Makes me worried about 6s too, since iPhone 7 is the same size.
    I had iPhone 6 before. It's known for fast battery draining. And on iPhone 5, the screen went black or berserk when the phone gets hot. iPhone 4 is the best problem-free phone I ever had. Finger cross on my current iPhone X.
    Mine is the 6s.  I've replaced my battery once, no major issues so far.  The home button does loosen a bit but still works.
  • Reply 11 of 52
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,497member
    The more of these I see, the more I think it should be illegal to file class-action lawsuits.
  • Reply 12 of 52
    jhujhu Posts: 1member
    I had an Iphone7 plus that demonstrated a similar  problem, (microphone wouldn’t work, and any app that used the microphone had the microphone button greyed out) it happened one or two months after it went out of warranty,  phone was otherwise in perfect condition.  The microphone through the headset also wouldn’t work. Took it into apple a couple of times, Genius Bar ran hardware self checks, got me to reinstall it several times,  because they said it can’t be a HW problem and might be a SW issue.  I kept on saying to them that They only offered me a fee to take it in to have a closer look but with no guarantee they could fix it or how much it would host if they were going to fix it. I wasn’t very happy but I’d already wasted a lot of time, and as it was my company phone and I wasn’t due a replacement for another year, and couldn’t get them to pay for a speculative repair, i went back to use an older phone (iphone5s with a cracked screen), for the rest of the year until I eventual got my upgrade.

    Before  I go further, I’m not gonna be joining this class action as I don’t believe in this kind of process.  However I can’t help but feel a bit upset that they weren’t able to diagnose such a a HW fault, and that because of the unknown nature of the fault I couldn’t go back to my company to say it’s would cost this much to fix. Maybe that’s just life, but apple is a premium brand with a quality reputation so I expected them to do better, especially as I’d hope they’d want to find out why it wasn’t working to improve things in future models.  ( I’m an engineer and that’s what we  care about, as it’s a continuous process to track down everything to get to a low field failure rate) 

    anyway iI posted this (it’s my first post - so you can tell the subject effected  me enough to post) in case anyone else had problems with audio on this or other models, with the hope that it might help, and that maybe the message will get back to Apple and they can keep improving their products and service
    SpamSandwich
  • Reply 13 of 52
    wonkothesanewonkothesane Posts: 1,404member
    Even without any further background information this law suit strikes me as a bit odd. From my understanding Apple replaces any phones with issues within warranty period. Anything else beyond this would be pure voluntary from Apple’s side. E.g. In case it turns into a widespread issue,  like in the MacBook Pro keyboard case. So it becomes a reputation risk. Other than that you may call it bad design, but unless you can prove it falls into planned obsolescence I think this is from a legal perspective bad luck for the consumer. I’m not saying Apple shouldn’t do anything. I’m just saying I don’t see there is any legal right from a consumer perspective. 
  • Reply 14 of 52
    Johan42Johan42 Posts: 163member
    chaicka said:
    What a world to twisted systems where wear and tear is no longer valid...
    Hey, it’s a bullshit lawsuit, but it’s definitely a factory defect and not wear and tear.
    tycho_macuser
  • Reply 15 of 52
    bulk001bulk001 Posts: 490member
    Johan42 said:
    chaicka said:
    What a world to twisted systems where wear and tear is no longer valid...
    Hey, it’s a bullshit lawsuit, but it’s definitely a factory defect and not wear and tear.
    You suggesting that even though it was “definitely a factory defect” the plaintiffs should either just pay themselves to fix it or that Apple offered to fix it for free and they refused? Trying to figure out why you think it is “a bullshit lawsuit”? I had two 6 devices with the touch disease and both were replaced without question. If they haven’t though I would have been pretty annoyed with Apple. What would you suggest that they do to get the issue resolved?
    80s_Apple_Guy
  • Reply 16 of 52
    genovellegenovelle Posts: 981member
    cpsro said:
    viclauyyc said:
    When I see reports like this, I don’t always think it is the problem of the manufacturer, in this case Apple, but rather it is American justice system. 

    This is is no longer about consumer rights, it is all about blood sucking lawyers and lobbyists.

    Hot coffee can’t be hot. Knife need a warning label about it will cut you open. It makes me wonder if gun manufacturers put warning on guns about it can kill people. But I guess it doesn’t matter.

    Sorry for bad English.
    Let me guess: you didn't spend $1K on an iPhone 7 and have this problem happen to you?
    My biggest problem with any flex foolishness is that half of the phones I see with young people, especially women are in their back pockets. Why should phones be designed to be sat on?
    repressthis
  • Reply 17 of 52
    djkfisherdjkfisher Posts: 116member
    I had the problem and Apple replaced the phone, no questions asked.
  • Reply 18 of 52
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 5,269member
    I think this kind of defect is relative and whether it is a defect is largely a matter of degree.

    For myself, I took advantage of the iPhone 6 Touch Disease and got a new phone out of it:   While Touch Disease is real, it is also relative.   Mine didn't breakdown till after 3 years of use and only then when I added my grandson's smaller iPhone 7 to the same pocket where I carried my 6+ while we played basketball.   The 6+ bent over the smaller 7 and touch disease developed.

    So, was that a defective phone or misuse on my part?    I think the answer may be "Both".
    And I suspect that this problem may be similar:  if you don't "over stress" the phone, the problem doesn't happen:   But, what is "over stressing"?

    An analogy might be:   when I tore down one of my early IBM Thinkpads I found that it contained a separate full size titanium frame inside.   That obviously added considerable bulk to the laptop but it also made it near bullet proof -- NOTHING was going to bend inside of there.  Nothing!  Apple could easily avoid these problems by adding thick, bulky titanium frame to the inside of its phones -- but then we would likely complain that they weren't slim enough.

    These are difficult problems that force Tim to earn his paycheck.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 19 of 52
    SoliSoli Posts: 9,360member
    djkfisher said:
    I had the problem and Apple replaced the phone, no questions asked.
    Assuming that you were outside a factory or extended (i.e.: AppleCare+) warranty, that is an indication that Apple know there was an issue with that component. Buy replacing the device they're helping to subdue and control the potential for a class action lawsuit. That isn't to say that this lawsuit has merit—and from what I've seen it's your standard mbulance chaser. As Johan42 alludes, both can be true.

    I always see what Apple (or any other company) will agree to fix or replace before dumping a product. Even if you're completely fed up with it you can sell it or gift it to someone who does want it. I've had countless repairs with Apple over the decades, but I keep coming back to them because they support their products much better than other vendors. I see it from the very pro and very anti Apple fans alike. They live in a fantasy world where they assume that a tech company building products in China using hundreds of components sourced from dozens of companies are never suppose to have an issue. Frankly, I'm amazed that something that has the yield and mindshare Apple has with the iPhone doesn't have more issues.
    edited May 4 muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 20 of 52
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 1,726member
    genovelle said:
    cpsro said:
    viclauyyc said:
    When I see reports like this, I don’t always think it is the problem of the manufacturer, in this case Apple, but rather it is American justice system. 

    This is is no longer about consumer rights, it is all about blood sucking lawyers and lobbyists.

    Hot coffee can’t be hot. Knife need a warning label about it will cut you open. It makes me wonder if gun manufacturers put warning on guns about it can kill people. But I guess it doesn’t matter.

    Sorry for bad English.
    Let me guess: you didn't spend $1K on an iPhone 7 and have this problem happen to you?
    My biggest problem with any flex foolishness is that half of the phones I see with young people, especially women are in their back pockets. Why should phones be designed to be sat on?
    The problem/question is, ‘what is appropriate use?’ And ‘what is expected wear and tear?’ Take it to the extreme and look at the galaxy fold - if you got debris or pocket lint in the opening where it folded the screen would break. You could argue that it worked as designed, it just wasn’t designed to get dirt inside. Except ‘typical and expected use’ means putting it in your pocket where that will happen. 

    So is putting a phone in your back pocket typical and expected use? Since you see virtually every female between the ages of 14 and 40 doing it I would argue that it is. (Why clothing designers chose to design women’s clothes without adequate pockets and why women continue to buy them is a separate issue.)

    Beyond the expected use is the question of manufacturing vs design defects and what companies should be expected to cover. The Apple warranty covers manufacturing defects for one year.  Manufacturing defects are present at the time of purchase, so that clearly doesn’t apply here. If one argues that this is a design defect, how long should Apple be held liable? If a device quits working 2 years after purchase, it has functioned for twice as long as the warranty, but clearly not as long as most would hope, and can it be considered a design defect in this case?
    dysamoriaGeorgeBMachammeroftruthrepressthis
Sign In or Register to comment.