A consumer rights activist is suing Apple for more than £750m (about $1bn) alleging the company intentionally downgrades older devices to avoid the expense of repairing or replacing a device that was running low on battery. weak.
In a complaint filed in the UK Competition Appeals Court, Justin Guttman alleges that Apple has included a secret battery management system in an iOS update, with the intention of disguising the fact that older iPhone models do not could handle the new version. This practice is known as ‘strangulation’.
Guttman says the system was not included in the software’s notes and that consumers were not given the option to disable it, meaning the ‘upgrade’ was effectively a ‘downgrade’ in terms of performance.
As Apple did not admit that its older models could not handle the upgrade and did not provide an alternative course of action, the case alleges that consumers were harmed.
“The complaint is against [Apple] for violating UK competition law, abusing its dominant position in related markets, applying exploitative and unfair business practices that have caused widespread harm to UK consumers and businesses.
“These practices include: forcing users to download iOS updates that placed demands on iPhones that exceeded the capacities of the installed batteries, thus increasing the likelihood of unexpected shutdowns; pushing iOS updates on users that contained a ‘throttling’ function, which resulted in significant reductions in the performance of these iPhones; and failing to communicate transparently about unexpected shutdowns and subsequent ‘bottlenecks’.”
If successful, anyone who owns an iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6S, 6S Plus, SE, 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus or X will be entitled to compensation.
Apple has faced accusations of ‘throttling’ devices to encourage consumers to buy new hardware sooner. In 2020, it settled in a California court, agreeing to pay up to $500 million (with a minimum of $310 million) in the form of payments to affected US customers. Similar processes have also been opened in France and Italy.
While the company has denied deliberately slowing down older phones for nefarious reasons, it has confirmed that it does so for older phones in certain circumstances. This could be due to a very old battery or because the device was cold – scenarios that would otherwise result in the device shutting down. Newer features include a ‘battery health’ dashboard and the ability to choose whether or not to optimize charging.
Pro contacted Apple for comment.