Apple could face $900 million 'Batterygate' suit in UK

Posted:
in iPhone edited June 16
A consumer rights activist has filed a claim with UK authorities over Apple allegedly "throttling" the iPhone 6, and other iPhones, aiming to see Apple pay over 750 million pounds ($900 million out to around 25 million people.




The UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) recently claimed that its influence will make Apple "more upfront" over battery health and performance. Now the UK's Competition Appeals Tribunal is considering a multimillion dollar legal claim over the issue.

There isn't an exact equivalent to the US's class action lawsuit in the UK, but according to The Guardian, consumer rights activist Justin Gutmann is effectively attempting one. Gutmann maintains that the approximately 25 million people who bought certain iPhones should have been told that their phones would be "throttled."

"I'm launching this case so that millions of iPhone users across the UK will receive redress for the harm suffered by Apple's actions," Gutmann told The Guardian. "If this case is successful, I hope dominant companies will re-evaluate their business models and refrain from this kind of conduct."

The sol-called "Batterygate" issue concerns the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone SE, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X models.

In 2017, Apple released an iOS update that included a new, and unannounced, battery feature. To preserve the battery's life, and to prevent older iPhones shutting down without warning, the update slowed, or "throttled," them.

Gutmann says that Apple slowed down these phones to disguise how the batteries were inadequate for the new version of iOS.

"Instead of doing the honourable and legal thing by their customers and offering a free replacement, repair service or compensation," continued Gutmann, "Apple instead misled people by concealing a tool in software updates that slowed their devices by up to 58%."

A similar US case concluded in 2020, with Apple proposing to set up a $500 million fund. Affected customers could apply to it, and would receive up to $25 compensation.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 12
    Another day, another lawsuit against Apple. As usual, the motive seems more to be a cash grab than anything truly justifiable. 
    iOS_Guy80entropysravnorodomkillroywatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 12
    darkvaderdarkvader Posts: 886member
    Apple really did screw up badly, and if nothing else needs to be smacked down hard enough to not only discourage them from ever doing anything like it again but also to discourage every other tech company from pulling a similar stunt in the future.

    I almost replaced my iPhone 6+ because of Apple's fuckery.  I decided I could live with the speed a bit longer, but the battery life was crap, so I replaced the battery.  The speed problem went away.  I probably should have investigated it, but I was happy enough to have the phone faster that I didn't think to swap the old battery back in to see if it made a difference.  About three weeks later the batterygate story broke.

    If I'd known that the phone was being throttled because of the battery and I'd had the option, I'd have set it to "go fast anyway, I'll risk the occasional crash" and immediately ordered a new battery.
    lkrupp
  • Reply 3 of 12
    This is merely a money grab by the attorneys.  They will get around 30% of the settlement/judgement plus fees.  They get multi-millions while the clients will get a whopping $25.  All phones batteries wear down.  While their throttling was frustrating, and I did replace the battery because it was below 80% capacity, i replaced it more because I was replacing the screen at the same time.  Had I not broken the screen, I would have likely not replaced the battery.  Eventually Apple made things right by altering the OS so you could un-throttle it.  I think I suffered more harm from the screen and battery repair company than apple.  The replacement battery needed replaced within a year, and the screen would go blank at temp under 70°C.  I replaced both for a total of $60 myself the second time.  The first replacement cost $150.  
    iOS_Guy80killroywatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 12
    entropysentropys Posts: 3,602member
    darkvader said:
    Apple really did screw up badly, and if nothing else needs to be smacked down hard enough to not only discourage them from ever doing anything like it again but also to discourage every other tech company from pulling a similar stunt in the future.

    I almost replaced my iPhone 6+ because of Apple's fuckery.  I decided I could live with the speed a bit longer, but the battery life was crap, so I replaced the battery.  The speed problem went away.  I probably should have investigated it, but I was happy enough to have the phone faster that I didn't think to swap the old battery back in to see if it made a difference.  About three weeks later the batterygate story broke.

    If I'd known that the phone was being throttled because of the battery and I'd had the option, I'd have set it to "go fast anyway, I'll risk the occasional crash" and immediately ordered a new battery.
    So your problem you discovered was obviously the battery and yet you imply Apple did something nefarious? 
    killroywatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 12
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 6,339member
    Money grab or not, Apple borked the whole communication angle of the matter. On top of that, IMO, the capacity of the iPhone 6 line wasn't that great and people probably managed to get through a lot of charge cycles on phones they planned on keeping for a while longer. My wife was one such customer.

    It could have landed Apple in the perfect storm, as it were. 

    As an aside, the EU is slowly formulating an update to the batteries directive which will specifically tackle the problem of throttling. 
    edited June 16
  • Reply 6 of 12
    A. Throttling is a standard battery saving practice for any mobile device, regardless of whether it's a laptop, phone or tablet. Anyone who thinks their new M2 MBA is going to be running at the fastest possible processor speed for every task on battery power needs to think again.

    B. The form of throttling in question for this lawsuit was something that was designed to occur only when the phone was at risk of shutting down unexpectedly. So the people who are suing are essentially saying that it's more consumer friendly for the phone to lose power entirely than to throttle and keep the phone running. In addition, the shut downs could also potentially cause damage to the phone due to the voltage demand being higher than the battery could provide. So they're also saying risking damage to the phone is more consumer friendly too. 
    edited June 16 killroythe1maximusdanoxstompywatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 12
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,360member

    B. The form of throttling in question for this lawsuit was something that was designed to occur only when the phone was at risk of shutting down unexpectedly. So the people who are suing are essentially saying that it's more consumer friendly for the phone to lose power entirely than to throttle and keep the phone running. In addition, the shut downs could also potentially cause damage to the phone due to the voltage demand being higher than the battery could provide. So they're also saying risking damage to the phone is more consumer friendly too. 
    No, they're saying that if Apple are going to do that then Apple should inform the user that's what they're doing.  Otherwise the user has no means to tell whether the performance downgrade is a simple battery issue, or the phone itself becoming infirm.  The harm is that some users will have felt unduly pressured into buying a new iPhone because of the poor performance of their existing phone, which could have been remedied with a battery replacement if only they'd known that was the root of the issue.

    Apple absolutely did the right thing by instituting battery management features when capacity was eroded.  They absolutely did the wrong thing by making this all opaque to the user.
    muthuk_vanalingamdanox
  • Reply 8 of 12
    colt033colt033 Posts: 8member
    Apple got this very wrong. Don't get the idiots defending them. Sorry, you're not smart (or interesting) because you bought a product from Apple.
  • Reply 9 of 12
    badmonkbadmonk Posts: 1,085member
    As a previous iPhone 6 owner who suffered from “the-sudden-shut-down-problem” on more than one occasion in the Florida heat, Apple’s update was necessary to allow my phone to continue to work.  And it did stop the problem.

    Yes communication from Apple was poor but the slow-down was necessary to allow a functional phone for a longer period of time.  This is especially true if you need to rely on your phone in an emergency (I am an ICU physician).

    If you are dissatisfied with your iPhone you can always switch to Android and receive a device that has fewer updates.  It might sooth the aggrieved first world psyches on display in this forum more effectively as well.
    stompywatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 12
    jimh2jimh2 Posts: 434member
    “Much Ado about Nothing”. It helped your old ass phone limp along farther and that’s it. Everyone forgets that prior to Apple free updates were virtually non-existent and if there were updates they fixed stuff, but not improved or added functionality. Throttling without telling was not their best move but it’s no cause for suing. I wonder if any manufacturer can be sued for improving battery life while sacrificing speed without telling the owner. 

    One should not that Apple displays the option for low power mode, which is probably a result of these frivolous lawsuits. 
    stompydanoxwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 12
    maltzmaltz Posts: 339member
    darkvader said:
    Apple really did screw up badly, and if nothing else needs to be smacked down hard enough to not only discourage them from ever doing anything like it again but also to discourage every other tech company from pulling a similar stunt in the future.

    I almost replaced my iPhone 6+ because of Apple's fuckery.  I decided I could live with the speed a bit longer, but the battery life was crap, so I replaced the battery.  The speed problem went away.  I probably should have investigated it, but I was happy enough to have the phone faster that I didn't think to swap the old battery back in to see if it made a difference.  About three weeks later the batterygate story broke.

    If I'd known that the phone was being throttled because of the battery and I'd had the option, I'd have set it to "go fast anyway, I'll risk the occasional crash" and immediately ordered a new battery.

    "Go fast anyway" is potentially a pretty bad choice - it's a good way to end up with corrupted settings, spawning a host of evil weirdness that could conceivably require a factory reset to resolve.  You really can't live with a slightly sluggish phone for a week or two until your new battery arrives?  That's not to say that Apple shouldn't have disclosed low-battery mitigation better, but the throttling was definitely the right move, from a technical standpoint.

    (Modern file systems and databases protect against STRUCTURAL damage from accidental power drops, but applications themselves are rarely so rigorous, so you can still end up with inconsistency in a settings file/table.)
    stompywatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 12
    danoxdanox Posts: 1,169member
    colt033 said:
    Apple got this very wrong. Don't get the idiots defending them. Sorry, you're not smart (or interesting) because you bought a product from Apple.
    What they got wrong was all the double talking afterwards, currently in action on Stage Manager.
    edited June 17
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