In a series of events that culminated in the infamous “#batterygate”, Apple’s decision to introduce a software feature that throttled iPhone processors under heavy loads stirred significant controversy. The feature, embedded within iOS, aimed to curtail the adverse impacts of aging iPhone batteries, primarily unexpected shutdowns. This affected a range of models, from iPhone 6 and 6 Plus to iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, as well as the iPhone SE running specific versions of iOS before and after December 21, 2017.
Legal Battles and Settlement
- Class Action Lawsuit: Stemming from these allegations, a class action lawsuit claimed that Apple misrepresented the nature of iOS updates by not warning users about the potential throttling of processing speeds. This significant lawsuit, representing a class of nearly 100 million iPhone users, was filed in April 2018.
- Initial Approval: By May 2020, U.S. District Judge Edward J. Davila gave his preliminary nod to a class action settlement between the plaintiffs and Apple. This settlement proposed that Apple pay a substantial amount of up to $500 million to affected users.
- Appeals and Delays: The settlement faced objections from two iPhone owners, leading to an appeal to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, as reported by SiliconValley.com. However, this appeal was recently denied, clearing the path for the settlement’s distribution.
Claimants: Consolidating multiple suits, the list of claimants reached around 3 million, all of whom were accepted by the deadline on October 6, 2020. Settlement Amount: Under the terms, Apple will disburse a total of between $310 and $500 million, contingent on the number of valid claims post-processing. Present estimates suggest the average compensation per claimant will hover around $65. However, the final amount may change based on the actual number of verified claims.
Though agreeing to the hefty payout, Apple has denied any wrongdoing. In late 2017, Apple extended an olive branch by offering a 63% discount on battery replacements for specific out-of-warranty iPhone models, slashing the price to $29. With the iOS 11.3 update, Apple introduced the “Battery Health” tools, enabling users to monitor their battery’s capacity relative to its original 100% capacity. This move aimed to offer more transparency regarding battery health and any potential performance throttling.
Eligible iPhone users, those who downloaded the contentious iOS 10.2.1 update and met other criteria, can anticipate their compensations between late 2023 and early 2024, as stated by attorney Mark Molunphy of the Burlingame law firm Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy. Payments were temporarily held up due to the appeal of two claimants. However, with their recent withdrawal, the compensation process is back on track.
Mark Molunphy commented on the extensive nature of this legal battle, noting, “It was five years of active litigation against one of the biggest companies in the world.” As of now, Apple has yet to comment on the recent developments.
Although the tech giant remains silent post-judgment, the broader implications of this settlement cannot be ignored. This case not only underscores the importance of transparency in the tech industry but also showcases the potential repercussions for companies that fail to communicate effectively with their user base. The coming years will show whether these lessons lead to tangible changes in how tech companies interact with their loyal user bases.