The litigation centred on stealthy mobile software that slowed phones in the name of avoiding ‘unintended power-offs’ according to the company
Apple has agreed to pay up to $500 million in a class-action settlement over claims that it covertly slowed older iPhones to get users to upgrade.
A federal judge in California presiding over the group of lawsuits will be asked to approve the proposed settlement at a hearing in early April, according to a court filing on Friday.
The litigation centred on stealthy mobile software that slowed phones in the name of avoiding ‘unintended power-offs’ according to the company.
In December 2017, Apple admitted that iOS software was tweaked to slow performance of older iPhones whose battery life was deteriorating to prevent handsets from spontaneously shutting down.
Critics accused Apple of surreptitiously forcing users to buy phones sooner than necessary, and the outcry forced Apple to upgrade its software and offer steep discounts on battery replacements.
The proposed settlement calls for Apple to pay at least $310 million dollars, but no more than $500 million to compensate affected US iPhone owners and pay lawyers for the plaintiffs, according to court documents.
People who owned iPhone 7 models or older will get $25 for each handset, with the amount rising or falling depending on how many people file claims and costs of getting word to them.
Lawyers behind the suit aim to pocket $93 million of the settlement money plus another $1.5 million or so for out-of-pocket expenses, legal documents indicated.
France’s consumer watchdog said last month that Apple had agreed to pay 25 million euros ($27.4 million) in a related case.
French prosecutors opened an inquiry in January 2018 at the request of the Halt Planned Obsolescence (HOP) association.
As batteries in all phones and gadgets age, they become less effective.
Meanwhile, as software becomes more advanced, it puts more of a strain on the battery and processor as the phone ages, and in some cases, this can cause phones to simply shut down.
Apple’s performance management feature throttles some system components, such as the CPU and the GPU, as the battery degrades over time to prevent the device from randomly shutting down.
Previously, this was an automatic feature in every iPhone, but following outrage from users, Apple began giving them the option to turn it off in iOS 11.3.
An Apple statement at the time maintained that ‘we have never – and would never – do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades.’
In May of last year Apple agreed to be more transparent with users when new software updates are likely to throttle or slow down the performance of their iPhones.
The tech giant signed an agreement with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), a UK watchdog that it would be ‘clearer and more upfront’ with users in the future.
As part of the agreement, Apple pledged to provide more accessible information about ‘battery health and unexpected shutdowns.’
It also pledged to give guidance on how iPhone users can maximize their device’s battery health, such as changing settings, turning on low power mode or replacing the battery.
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