APPLE INC has been accused of defrauding iPhone users by slowing devices without warning to compensate for poor battery performances in a series of lawsuits.
The company acknowledged last week for the first time in detail that operating system updates released since “last year” for the iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, iPhone SE and iPhone 7 included a feature “to smooth out” power supply from batteries that are cold, old or low on charge.
Phones without the adjustment would shut down abruptly because of a precaution designed to prevent components from getting fried, Apple said.
The move could prove costly for the iPhone firm with all the lawsuits – filed in U.S. District Courts in California, New York and Illinois – seeking class-action to represent potentially millions of iPhone owners nationwide.
The plaintiff in that case is being represented by attorney Jeffrey Fazio, who represented plaintiffs in a £39million settlement with Apple in 2013 over its handling of iPhone warranty claims.
The legal issue pivots on users blaming an aging handset processor for app crashes and sluggish performance – and therforechosing to buy a new phone – when the actual cause for the phone’s poor performance may have been a weak battery that could have been replaced for a fraction of the cost, some of the lawsuits state.
Chris Hoofnagle, faculty director for the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology, said Apple might not have done wrong.
He said “we still haven’t come to consumer protection norms” around ageing products.
Pointing to a device with a security flaw as an example, he adds: “The ethical approach could include degrading or even disabling functionality.”
The lawsuits seek unspecified damages in addition to, in some cases, reimbursement. A couple of the complaints seek court orders barring Apple from throttling iPhone computer speeds or requiring notification in future instances.
Mr Braund says: “With technological advancements, more and more is asked of our devices and it’s true that the chip or hardware isn’t able to work as it once did when was new.
Adding: Also, with continuous, everyday use, the product will deteriorate so by restricting the battery, it is preserving the life left, although at that time it does make sense to look at an upgrade or risk becoming frustrated.”
Ms Fongang told Express.co.uk: “Apple has established a strong brand relationship. Even if consumers are disappointed by this, they will still remain loyal to the brand as in their eyes there isn’t a better product.
“You could compare this to a relationship of a loyal wife to unfaithful husband. A woman who is in love with a man, and in whom she sees not better life without him, will forgive his affair.
“Apple is a strong brand and they define the status of users. The majority of consumers will still buy Apple products – it is what we call blind love.”
It comes as Apple shares fell on Tuesday after a report from Taiwan’s Economic Daily saying that iPhone X demand could come in below expectations in the first quarter.
Apple’s (AAPL) stock slid by 4 per cent last week after multiple industry analysts predicted weak demand for the new flagship iPhone in key territories.
Express.co.uk has contacted Apple for comment on the lawsuits.