Six-year iPhone 4S & iOS 9 legal battle may end in $15 settlement

in iPhone edited May 5
Six years of a legal case regarding Apple allegedly slowing older iPhones with its iOS 9 upgrade may end as the plaintiffs ask the courts to recommend a much reduced settlement.

Apple's iPhone 4s
Apple's iPhone 4s

In 2015, a class action lawsuit over planned obsolescence called for Apple to pay damages totalling no less than $5 million, and potentially reaching $15 million. The suit claimed that Apple had deceptively advertised iOS 9 as being compatible with iPhone 4s.

Apple denied this and, according to the plaintiffs, that denial eventually comprised in part with 48,000 documents and 539,000 pages. Now, the plaintiffs have called for an end to the case.

"After over six years of hard-fought litigation," write the plaintiffs in a court memorandum, "counsel recognize the substantial risks the Parties would face if the action progressed."

"The Parties have a comprehensive understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of their positions," it continues, "as they have litigated Apple's Motion to Dismiss, Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification, and Apple's Rule 23(f) Petition, and have engaged in extensive discovery at both the class certification and merits stages of this action."

Consequently, the plaintiffs say that they know "the Parties would resume complex, costly, and time-consuming litigation," unless it is settled. The plaintiffs therefore present a settlement case to the court, produced as "the result of vigorous advocacy and arms'-length negotiations by counsel for all parties, who are experienced in complex class actions and litigation involving claims of false and deceptive advertising and unfair business practices."

Rather than the original $5 milllion to $15 million damages, the proposed settlement asks that "class members who submit valid claims will receive $15 per eligible iPhone 4S device."

"This is a favorable result," maintain the plaintiffs, "because Apple argued throughout the litigation that even if Plaintiffs succeeded in proving their claims, which Apple vigorously contested, actual damages as measured by the secondary market price did not exceed $15 per device."

The group's court submission, first spotted by MacRumors, is a "Memorandum of Law in Support of Plaintiffs' Unopposed Motion for Preliminary Approval of Class Action Settlement." Newly revealed, it was originally filed with the US District Court Eastern District of New York on March 5, 2022.

The class, which includes more than 100 members, asserted that iOS 9 bogged down their iPhone 4s devices to the point of being unfit for daily use. After upgrading, both first- and third-party apps exhibited delayed launch times, slow response to touchscreen input and other problems. Overall performance became sluggish, while some users, including Lerman, reported freezes and crash events.

The lawsuit went on to claim that Apple, through "internal testing and/or through other means," was well aware of iOS 9's negative impact on iPhone 4s functionality. Despite this knowledge, the company allegedly went through with a broad marketing campaign advertising faster performance, enhanced security, longer battery life and other enticing features. The suit also claims that the company's ads, website and iOS update page fail to warn owners of older hardware, specifically iPhone 4s devices, of potential compatibility issues.

Apple faced similar accusations in 2011 from plaintiffs in a class action complaint who claimed iOS 4 turned their iPhone 3G into "iBricks." The case was tossed a year later, though users claiming "planned obsolescence" as resource demand increases as operating systems evolve continue to crop up with nearly every significant Apple release.

Lerman v Apple - -$15 Settlement Per iPhone 4 by Mike Wuerthele on Scribd

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  • Reply 1 of 6
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 3,178member
    Since there were about 50 million "iPhone 4" sold, and since there must be at least 1 million of those still around, then $15 times 1 million is still $15,000,000 in damages. This is still the high end of their original request. Please correct me if I'm wrong, because this "compromise" makes no sense to me.

    And the lawyers are no doubt being paid a 30% contingency fee, which means they will get $5,000,000. Right?
  • Reply 2 of 6
    williamhwilliamh Posts: 869member
    Since there were about 50 million "iPhone 4" sold, and since there must be at least 1 million of those still around, then $15 times 1 million is still $15,000,000 in damages. This is still the high end of their original request. Please correct me if I'm wrong, because this "compromise" makes no sense to me.

    And the lawyers are no doubt being paid a 30% contingency fee, which means they will get $5,000,000. Right?
    The lawyers are just fine.  They earned their money by ensuring that Apple's victims could each afford two fancy drinks at Starbucks.

    There is a problem with your math because you left out a factor.  According to other reporting, "Under the settlement, Apple allocated $20 million to compensate ‌iPhone‌ 4S owners in New York and New Jersey who experienced poor performance after updating to iOS 9."  So instead of 1 million iPhone 4s owners collecting the loot, it will be a much, much smaller number.
    edited May 5 jony0
  • Reply 3 of 6
    jas99jas99 Posts: 120member
    I half feel it’s better for Apple to stick to its guns and just outright win this ridiculous case. 
    I’m still pissed a bunch of idiots who misinterpreted the entire situation are going to get anything at all. 
  • Reply 4 of 6
    tokyojimutokyojimu Posts: 519member
    I had a 4S and iOS 9 _did_ make the phone basically unusable. Apple should at least make it possible to downgrade to the previous OS in those circumstances.
  • Reply 5 of 6
    $15? Lump sum or instalments?
  • Reply 6 of 6
    mpantonempantone Posts: 1,934member
    $15? Lump sum or instalments?
    These class-action payouts are always lump sum.

    I got one a few years ago from some Apple DVD or CD-ROM player settlement.

    It's worth pointing out that installment payouts would be more expensive to implement from an administrative perspective.

    If Apple mailed out a physical paper check, a bunch of them would get returned as undeliverable (at least pre-pandemic about 10% of Americans changed their address every year). Naturally these costs can't be deducted from the payout amount. It would be up to Apple to track down those creditors, an effort that isn't free.

    Even if Apple cut three $5 checks at the same time, the postage itself makes it more expensive. 1 x ($15 + $0.50) = $15.50 versus 3 x ($5 + $0.50) = $16.50.

    My guess is that every $15 check has at least an additional $5 in administrative costs on average. It is in Apple's best interest to get the payouts sent out, wipe their hands clean of this matter, and move on.

    As a former iPhone 4S owner I expect to get some sort of communication from Apple about this. Whether it be a postcard or e-mail it still costs Apple something to get people to contact me. Or to program a system that compares the iPhone 4S serial number that I submit with what they have in their various databases (online store, Apple Support, etc.). And yes, I have that phone's serial number.

    It's not like Apple will put one million $15 checks (or three million $5 checks) on a table and invite people to help themselves like some self-service buffet. The administrative costs are not inconsequential.
    edited May 5
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