Apple may Australian class action over slowed down iPhones

Apple could face an Australian class action after tech giant admits it deliberately slows down old iPhones ‘to preserve battery life‘

Apple could be facing an Australian class action after the tech giant admitted they slowed down older version of iPhones.

Last week, the company confirmed it introduced a feature to its iOS operating system to help preserve battery life, which it says diminishes over time.

The update, which came out last year, manages performance on the 6, 6S and SE.

The problem was first discovered by users in mid-December, prompting Apple to issue a formal statement.

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Jan Saddler from Shine Lawyers told the  the firm would likely go ahead with a class action against the company in 2018.

‘In Australia, we will be looking at a class action for strict product liability, negligence, breach of warranty, and a violation of consumer trust,‘ she said. 

‘There was no express consent among iPhone users to have their phones slowed down.‘ 

A decision on whether the firm would take on the case would be revealed early next year, after investigating the grounds for an Australian lawsuit.

However, Ms Saddler said Apple had ‘misled millions of consumers globally into believing that their iPhones were malfunctioning, causing them to upgrade to newer and more costly devices‘.

Actions such as these could break Australian Consumer Law, Ms Saddler believes, and those who upgraded their old iPhones could seek compensation to cover the cost of the upgrade.  

Apple has since explained the ageing process of batteries in iPhones, and ways to prevent unexpected shutdowns.  

The company has now issued a formal apology and intends to cut prices for users who wish to replace the battery in old models. 

‘We know that some of you feel Apple has let you down. We apologize. There‘s been a lot of misunderstanding about this issue, so we would like to clarify and let you know about some changes we‘re making,‘ the statement read.  

‘Apple is reducing the price of an out-of-warranty iPhone battery replacement by AU$80 — from AU$119 to AU$39 — for anyone with an iPhone 6 or later whose battery needs to be replaced, starting in late January and available worldwide through to December 2018.‘

Daily Mail Australia has ed Apple for further comment.  

Full statement from Apple regarding the slowing down of old iPhones 

We‘ve been hearing feedback from our customers about the way we handle performance for iPhone devices with older batteries and how we have communicated that process. We know that some of you feel Apple has let you down. We apologise. There‘s been a lot of misunderstanding about this issue, so we would like to clarify a few things and let you know about some changes we‘re making.

First and foremost, 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. Our goal has always been to create products that our customers love, and making each iPhone last as long as possible is an important part of that.

All rechargeable batteries are consumable components that become less effective as they chemically age and their ability to hold a charge diminishes. Time and the number of times a battery has been charged are not the only factors in this chemical ageing process.

Device use also affects the performance of a battery over its lifespan. For example, leaving or charging a battery in a hot environment can cause it to age faster. These are characteristics of battery chemistry, common to lithium-ion batteries across the industry.

A chemically aged battery also becomes less capable of delivering peak energy loads, especially in a low state of charge, which may result in a device unexpectedly shutting itself down in some situations.

To help customers learn more about the rechargeable battery in their iPhone and the factors affecting its performance, we‘ve posted a new support article, iPhone Battery and Performance.

It should go without saying that we think sudden, unexpected shutdowns are unacceptable. We don‘t want any of our users to lose a call, miss taking a picture or have any other part of their iPhone experience interrupted if we can avoid it.

About a year ago in iOS 10.2.1, we delivered a software update that improves power management during peak workloads to avoid unexpected shutdowns on iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus and iPhone SE. With the update, iOS dynamically manages the maximum performance of some system components when needed to prevent a shutdown. While these changes may go unnoticed, in some cases users may experience longer launch times for apps and other reductions in performance.

Customer response to iOS 10.2.1 was positive, as it successfully reduced the occurrence of unexpected shutdowns. We recently extended the same support to iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus in iOS 11.2.

Of course, when a chemically aged battery is replaced with a new one, iPhone performance returns to normal when operated in standard conditions.

Over the course of this spring, we began to receive feedback from some users who were seeing slower performance in certain situations. Based on our experience, we initially thought this was due to a combination of two factors: a normal, temporary performance impact when upgrading the operating system as iPhone installs new software and updates apps; and minor bugs in the initial release, which have since been fixed.

We now believe that another contributor to these user experiences is the continued chemical ageing of the batteries in older iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s devices, many of which are still running on their original batteries.

We‘ve always wanted our customers to be able to use their iPhone for as long as possible. We‘re proud that Apple products are known for their durability, and for holding their value longer than our competitors‘ devices.

To address our customers‘ concerns, to recognise their loyalty and to regain the trust of anyone who may have doubted Apple‘s intentions, we‘ve decided to take the following steps:  

At Apple, our customers‘ trust means everything to us. We will never stop working to earn and maintain it. We are able to do the work we love only because of your faith and support — and we will never forget that or take it for granted.

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