Apple's $500M agreement to settle iPhone throttling controversy gets preliminary approval

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Apple's proposed $500 million deal to settle a series of class action lawsuits involving the so-called iPhone slowdown controversy received preliminary approval on Friday, moving the kerfuffle closer to an official conclusion.

Battery


U.S. District Court Judge Edward J. Davila in a Zoom call today informed Apple and a number of plaintiffs that he intends to extend final approval deadlines by a few weeks due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, reports Law360.

Under terms of the deal, class members, which include iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, 7, 7 Plus and SE device owners who performed certain software updates, will receive $25 each for their troubles. That payout could reach up to $500 per instance should collective claims and attorneys fees not reach $310 million.

Class counsel is asking for 30% of the $310 million pool, or $93 million, and $1.5 million in expenses.

Calling the agreed-upon arrangement "fair, reasonable and adequate," Judge Davila on Friday gave his initial approval. Attorneys noted turnout for the $25 claims should be high as Apple has email addresses for most members of the class.

Apple's settlement applies to dozens of identical cases that were consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in 2018. The company was brought to task for false advertising, alleged unfair business practices, trespass to chattels, breach of contract and unjust enrichment for its part in issuing an iOS feature that temporarily throttles iPhone's processors during instances of heavy load. Apple released the hardware management feature in iOS 10.2.1, and all subsequent iOS versions, to mitigate negative effects of aging iPhone batteries, specifically unexpected shutdowns suffered by certain iPhone 6 and 6s devices.

Critics claimed Apple failed to adequately inform users about the feature and its ability to slow down handset performance without user consent. Release notes accompanying the 10.2.1 release state only that the update "improves power management during peak workloads to avoid unexpected shutdowns on iPhone."

A Reddit user ultimately uncovered the CPU throttling function through benchmarking testing, with the results touching off a firestorm of complaints and rekindling rumors of a so-called planned obsolescence scheme.

Further testing from third parties confirmed the presence of an undisclosed throttling process, prompting Apple to issue an apology to iPhone owners for a lack of transparency. To make up for the alleged indiscretion, prices on out-of-warranty battery replacements were cut and the company later introduced a battery health tool that allows users to disable the throttling feature manually.

Multiple class-action lawsuits and government inquiries followed Apple's announcement. After years of legal back-and-forth, Apple and class counsels reached a $500 million deal in March.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 22
    FatmanFatman Posts: 513member
    Class action = lawyers make money. I have two phones eligible, but honestly don’t feel Apple wronged me - I’d rather have my phone slow down than shut off unexpectedly. I understand that technology ages quickly and must be replaced fairly often a that’s just part of the deal. My brother is an Android user. Lucky if he gets three years out of them. I still have an iPhone 6 humming along after nearly 6 years - I don’t feel that the phone nor Apple owes me anything.
    randominternetpersonrob53gregoriusmhammeroftruthuraharatobianjony0GeorgeBMaclkruppwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 22
    Ridiculous, but I'll cash my $50 or $75 check when it comes. Hundreds of millions of dollars for the lawyers. Justice!
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 22
    j2fusionj2fusion Posts: 137member
    Class Action should only be allowed after a successful criminal trial. 93 million plus 1.5 million for expenses. Really!
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 22
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,828member
    Tim probably never thought he'd have to use one of his $500 million dollar fly swatters to scare these blood sucking pests away, but alas, he did.

    Good thing he still has a rack of them ready for the next invasive swarm.

    Pest control is just a cost of doing business.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 22
    viclauyycviclauyyc Posts: 688member
    Shocking, the lawyer get more money than the “victim”. How is that even possible in a moral world.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 22
    Fatman said:
    Class action = lawyers make money. I have two phones eligible, but honestly don’t feel Apple wronged me - I’d rather have my phone slow down than shut off unexpectedly. I understand that technology ages quickly and must be replaced fairly often a that’s just part of the deal. My brother is an Android user. Lucky if he gets three years out of them. I still have an iPhone 6 humming along after nearly 6 years - I don’t feel that the phone nor Apple owes me anything.
    I used to think that way until I realized that all my virtue wasn't having any affect on these lawsuits.  The lawyers still got gobs of money, and the other people still got money, so I decided to start sending those cards in.  Getting checks for $50, $75, $12.18 (really, I don't even know what that one was for...  sugar in my sugar free Jell-O packets? maybe?), and the best one was for $258.

    I do gladly support tort reform, as those checks are more of a "found $5 in my pants pocket" than "I hope that check gets here so I can buy groceries" money.
    Fatman
  • Reply 7 of 22

    viclauyyc said:
    Shocking, the lawyer get more money than the “victim”. How is that even possible in a moral world.
    Makes me want to go to law school, and only take 29%.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 22
    zimmermannzimmermann Posts: 281member
    You Americans have a few strange things going on in your country.
    peterhartjony0GeorgeBMaccaladanianwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 22
    hammeroftruthhammeroftruth Posts: 1,087member
    You Americans have a few strange things going on in your country.
    It’s not just America, other countries want a piece of Apple’s pile of money for taxes they think they are owed or some issue with privacy or monopoly on Apple technology that they think should be shared with everyone so it won’t look like an unfair advantage. 

    This is a cash grab and Apple should have never offered a battery replacement program. They should have rolled back that update, explained that batteries don’t last
    forever, and offered the consumer a choice to either throttle the processor on a device with a failing battery or not and have a pop up message that their device has a failing battery and may unexpectedly shut off and damage their device. 

    It is ironic how they quickly folded on this yet when something like the butterfly keyboard issue reared it’s head, Apple was directing their technicians to blow them out with air or clean them when clearly the design was faulty. 
    uraharawatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 22
    hammeroftruthhammeroftruth Posts: 1,087member
    Fatman said:
    Class action = lawyers make money. I have two phones eligible, but honestly don’t feel Apple wronged me - I’d rather have my phone slow down than shut off unexpectedly. I understand that technology ages quickly and must be replaced fairly often a that’s just part of the deal. My brother is an Android user. Lucky if he gets three years out of them. I still have an iPhone 6 humming along after nearly 6 years - I don’t feel that the phone nor Apple owes me anything.
    You are one of the few who understand what happens to consumed batteries on devices if they are not replaced. You probably can also tell the difference between a software issue and a battery issue. 
    uraharawatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 22
    BeatsBeats Posts: 2,532member
    I wonder what the lawsuit would look like if the battery took the hit instead?

    Also my iPhone 4s isn't compatible with the latest iOS. Any lawyers here?
    edited May 2020 watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 22
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,274member
    The saddest part about all this was that it could have been prevented by a single web page clearly explaining how and why iPhones were being throttled. 
    caladanian
  • Reply 13 of 22
    looplessloopless Posts: 216member
    The absurd thing is that Apple did not do this in secret. They mentioned it in the release notes for an iOS point release. Ok, they did not make a big deal about it, but still... 
    radarthekatwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 22
    jony0jony0 Posts: 345member
    When I read « Calling the greed-upon arrangement » I was shocked that AI would come out and say it as it is, then I went back and reread it. I still think my first read was more factual.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 22
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,302member
    Fatman said:
    Class action = lawyers make money. I have two phones eligible, but honestly don’t feel Apple wronged me - I’d rather have my phone slow down than shut off unexpectedly. I understand that technology ages quickly and must be replaced fairly often a that’s just part of the deal. My brother is an Android user. Lucky if he gets three years out of them. I still have an iPhone 6 humming along after nearly 6 years - I don’t feel that the phone nor Apple owes me anything.
    You are one of the few who understand what happens to consumed batteries on devices if they are not replaced. You probably can also tell the difference between a software issue and a battery issue. 

    Unfortunately, the "consumed batteries" thing is not entirely applicable to this:
    My iPhone 6 was shutting down at random times and could not be re-started without being charged from an AC outlet (my car's power outlet couldn't do it).  Since it was creating a safety hazard I took it to the Apple Store to be checked.   The sales clerk (not a technician) told me there was nothing wrong with the unit and that the battery was above the 80% level where Apple advised replacement -- but I should replace the battery anyway.   That made no sense to me and I though she was just trying to sell me a $75 battery.

    Later, Apple instituted the slow down -- which made the phone almost unusable -- I would type on the keyboard but it often took several seconds before the typing actually appeared making it almost impossible to type on.   But, mysteriously the random shut downs stopped -- which I took as proof that the clerk had bullshitted me.

    No, none of this was done nefariously by Apple -- but their lack of transparency not only caused unnecessary hastle but endangered the safety of their customers. 
    It was an error.   And, I think that it was good that it was recognized and punished to insure that Apple takes care to avoid similar mistakes in the future.
  • Reply 16 of 22
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,475member
    viclauyyc said:
    Shocking, the lawyer get more money than the “victim”. How is that even possible in a moral world.
    Not shocking at all. Remember, lawyers make the laws and lawyers take care of their own.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 22
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,475member
    This whole thing is one giant argument for mandating user replaceable batteries industry wide, industrial design be damned. 
    radarthekatMplsP
  • Reply 18 of 22
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,549moderator
    lkrupp said:
    This whole thing is one giant argument for mandating user replaceable batteries industry wide, industrial design be damned. 
    Mobile devices could actually be made without internal batteries rather than compromising their structure to allow them to be opened. Most mobile device users buy a protective case. The device manufacturers could design very slim devices with no internal battery and require a battery case. This way some people who don't use the phone much can choose a more slim-line case and others who use it a lot can get one with a larger battery. Wireless charging can be optional. People who need 100% uptime can keep spare cases and swap them on a charger. The same could be done with some of the mobile network components so that multi-sim options are easier - those sim tray openings weaken the structure of the device. It would be a lot easier to make different designs and color options this way too because they aren't tying that choice to the expensive hardware.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 22
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,302member
    Marvin said:
    lkrupp said:
    This whole thing is one giant argument for mandating user replaceable batteries industry wide, industrial design be damned. 
    Mobile devices could actually be made without internal batteries rather than compromising their structure to allow them to be opened. Most mobile device users buy a protective case. The device manufacturers could design very slim devices with no internal battery and require a battery case. This way some people who don't use the phone much can choose a more slim-line case and others who use it a lot can get one with a larger battery. Wireless charging can be optional. People who need 100% uptime can keep spare cases and swap them on a charger. The same could be done with some of the mobile network components so that multi-sim options are easier - those sim tray openings weaken the structure of the device. It would be a lot easier to make different designs and color options this way too because they aren't tying that choice to the extpensive hardware.

    That's a brilliant idea.
    But, several things argue against it:
    --  The life of a bettery for many is about 2 years -- which for many is time to trade in the phone -- so there would be no advantage for them.
    --  The cost of a replacement battery is only $70 -- which is less than the cost of most battery cases.   Plus, with AppleCare+ now available for the life of the phone, the replacement is free.  So, the extra battery case would add considerable expense -- roughly $100 every second year of so.
    --  Some prefer to have no case at all.   Prior to getting an LTE AppleWatch I would remove my phone's case when I ran to reduce weight and bulk -- the bare phone just didn't bounce around as much.

    And, now that Apple added the "battery health" feature to Settings, weak and failing batteries should be less of an issue.   But sadly, I know people who would not and do not ever use such features.

    But, I understand the desire for a user replaceable battery -- my early (non-Apple) smart phones had them and it was nice.  
  • Reply 20 of 22
    mike1mike1 Posts: 2,754member
    viclauyyc said:
    Shocking, the lawyer get more money than the “victim”. How is that even possible in a moral world.

    30% might or might not be a lot, but what would you propose? They are getting less than the victims. The "victims" are getting $217MM. Should the lawyers do all the work for less than $25? Would you?

    No different than the cut agents/managers get from a celebrity or professional athlete. I'm not a lawyer, but your shock and outrage are misplaced.


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