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Slowed iPhones spark class action lawsuits

Dec 27,2017
Apple has been hit with lawsuits after admitting it intentionally slowed down performances of iPhones through recent software updates. There is no sign of a Korean class action suit yet.

According to The Jerusalem Post on Monday, a $125 million lawsuit was filed against Apple on Monday in Tel Aviv accusing the company of “breaching its duty toward users by failing to disclose that innocent software updates would slow the performance of older model iPhones.” It was the first suit outside of the United States.

Four other class action suits were filed earlier in the United States after Apple released a statement last Wednesday admitting it had deliberately slowed down older iPhone models - the iPhone 6, 6S, SE (special edition) and 7 - to prevent unexpected device shutdowns due to aging batteries.

“Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, have a low battery charge or as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components,” Apple said in a statement. The company added it has added a feature to “smooth out” the peaks to prevent these shutdowns, which essentially means the performances of devices have been slowed down.

Despite Apple’s claims that its measures were intended to prolong the life of people’s iPhones, many people, including Apple fans, suspected it was a way to get customers to buy newer iPhones.

“These rumors have been going on for some while because users of older iPhone models obviously have suffered from frequent shutdowns or slowdowns especially in the cold,” said Jo Eun-nam, an iPhone 7 owner in Korea. “Such a late response from Apple shows it has intentionally concealed important product information from users to shorten products’ lifecycles.”

“It would have been less frustrating if Apple had provided a convenient or cheap way to replace iPhone batteries,” said Lee Ji-yoon, a 26-year-old owner of an iPhone 6, who recently changed the phone’s battery due to its slow performance and rapid consumption of battery power. “Replacing batteries with a genuine Apple battery costs around 100,000 won [$93.01], which is quite costly, so I went to a private refurbishing shop to change my battery for 40,000 won.”

Lee saw immediate improvements in the phone’s performance.

Stefan Bogdanovich and Dakota Speas, owners of iPhone 7s who brought a class action lawsuit in California last week, claimed that Apple deliberately interfered with iPhones and forced users to replace iPhones or buy new batteries, according to CBS News. They said the Cupertino-based company never requested consent from them to slow down their phones’ performances.

The two plaintiffs hope to get their case certified to cover all iPhone users in the United States.

In Korea, a class action lawsuit only covers the plaintiffs who participate.

Industry analysts say even one victory by a class action lawsuit would be a problem for Apple.

Apple has not released any official comment on the lawsuits.

Amid rising complaints, sales of the flagship iPhone X are flagging.

Analyst Zhang Bin from China’s Sinolink Securities said in a report Monday that iPhone X shipments in the first quarter next year may be as low as 35 million, which is roughly 10 million fewer than his previous estimates.

New York-based research firm JL Warren Capital also projected iPhone X shipments will drop from 30 million units in the fourth quarter to 25 million in the first quarter next year, citing reduced orders from some Apple suppliers.

The company said a high price tag and dearth of interesting innovations were the major problems in a report to clients Friday.


BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]