Apple in March agreed to pay up to $500 million to settle a long-running class-action lawsuit that accused the Cupertino firm of “secretly throttling” older iPhone models to allegedly persuade them to buy newer models. That settlement has been preliminarily approved by a judge.
During a hearing held via Zoom’s videoconferencing tool, U.S. District Judge Edward J. Davila told the parties he wants to extend the final approval deadlines by a few weeks due to the COVID-19 crisis and he told them to meet and confer about proposing a new date for a final settlement approval hearing that would take place sometime in December.
If the settlement is approved, it will put an end to multiple lawsuits against Apple that were ultimately consolidated into one class-action lawsuit back in May 2018. The lawsuits were filed against Apple after the iPhone maker revealed that it throttled the maximum performance of some older iPhone models with chemically aged batteries when necessary to prevent the devices from unexpectedly shutting down. The complaint called it “one of the largest consumer frauds in history.”
The issue stemmed from a “performance management system” Apple included in iOS 10.2.1 with no mention of the feature in the updates release notes. In a statement a month later, Apple mentioned on “improvements” that resulted in significantly fewer unexpected iPhone shutdowns.
The iPhone maker only revealed what the “improvements” consisted of when it was discovered that some iPhone 6s and iPhone 7 devices scored lower on benchmarks after installing the iOS updates.
The performance management system has been disabled by default since iOS 11.3 and is only enabled if the device suffers an unexpected shutdown. The feature can also be manually toggled by users.
Each affected iPhone user in the class would receive $25, according to the preliminary settlement. The amount could increase or decrease slightly per user, depending on legal fees and the total value of approved claims. Apple’s total payout would fall between $310 million and $500 million.
The class includes all former or current owners of iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, 7, 7 Plus, and SE handsets running iOS 10.2.1 or later (for the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, and SE) or iOS 11.2 or later (for the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus), and who ran these iOS versions before December 21, 2017.
Apple maintains no wrongdoing despite their agreement to the settlement, and court papers show that it settled the nationwide case to avoid the burdens and costs of litigation.