As the Chicago Sun-Times reports, Apple now faces a second lawsuit over the “deceptive, immoral and unethical” tactic of slowing older iPhones.
Apple, yesterday, acknowledged what many iPhone owners long suspected: It has slowed older phones.
The tech giant issued a rare statement of explanation, saying that it has used software updates to limit the performance of older iPhones that may have battery issues that would cause them to turn off suddenly.
Tech analysts and angry customers have reported in recent days that operating system updates had caused older iPhones to slow considerably, with some suggesting that Apple could be using the tactic to encourage fans to buy new phones.
Apple insists the updates were made with a different goal in mind: It said the performance of lithium-ion batteries degrades over time, which can sometimes cause phones to suddenly shut down in order to protect their components.
The company said its software updates for the iPhone 6, iPhone 6S, iPhone SE and iPhone 7 are designed to “smooth out” peak power demands, prevent these surprise shutdowns and ultimately prolong the lifespan of batteries but the updates can also lead to disappointing speeds.
Doron Myersdorf, CEO instant-charging battery startup StoreDot, said that “smoothing out” means that phones will reorder incoming commands to make sure not all of them are done in parallel.
“The inevitable outcome of it will be an inherent slowdown of the average response times by the system,” he explained.
Apple (AAPL) said in its statement that it will continue to use the feature with other products in the future.
“Our goal is to deliver the best experience for customers, which includes overall performance and prolonging the life of their devices,” it said.
Apple, today, has been hit with its first class action lawsuit over the tactic. The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles, California, accuses Apple’s battery saving “feature” of causing users to suffer and hurting the value of older devices.
It was reported that the lawsuit was filed by plaintiff Stefan Bodganovich.
While this case seems to be focused primarily on the iPhone 7 – which just recently was updated with the battery/performance balancing feature – we have to imagine this won’t be the only lawsuit Apple sees because of this feature.
The plaintiff says that Apple’s decision to slow older iPhones to preserve battery health was “never requested or agreed upon.”
Unsurprisingly, he also accuses Apple of using this feature as a ploy to push more users to upgrade every year.
Bodganovich is seeking damages payments to affected users, and he also wants Apple to stop the practice altogether.
We first reported on anecdotal evidence from iPhone users earlier this month that showed how Apple was potentially throttling older iPhones as their batteries aged. More evidence emerged soon after, making a stronger case against the company.
In a poll conducted yesterday, some 32 percent of readers said they wish Apple had been up front about the feature, instead of sneaking it into regular iOS releases. Another 28 percent said they think the move is ill-advised.
Today’s lawsuit should be taken with a grain of salt as it almost certainly overgeneralizes Apple’s intentions here and misrepresents its intentions.
While there are some obvious gray areas about how Apple handled the rollout of this battery/performance balancing tactic, the lawsuit fails to take into account the technical side of the feature and how all lithium-ion batteries are subject to normal wear.
The outcome of this lawsuit, and any others that emerge, remains to be seen.