The news cycle at present paints a bleak picture of the modern world. And while most seem intent on prepping for doomsday, Apple has once again made headlines for reasons not relating to the release of a new device or subscription service. Rather, they’ve agreed to a preliminary settlement of $500 million USD as part of a class action that alleged the company released software that intentionally slowed down ageing iPhones.
Deemed “Batterygate”, news that Apple was slowing the performance of older iPhones first broke in 2017. According to the tech giant, the practice of doing so had actually started in 2016 in an effort to compensate for battery degradation as opposed to push people to upgrade their smartphones faster. Regardless of the incentive, the overwhelming consensus amongst customers is that Apple broke their trust, applying the software to iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and iPhone SE before moving on to the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.
As Wired reported at the time, this “software manipulation” feeds into a “long-running, planned obsolescence conspiracy theory.” The publication went on to add, “Apple has actively fought against laws that would require it to provide a way for users to repair their devices.”
Not surprisingly, when Apple confirmed the practice of slowing down phones, the damage was done and the tech giant found itself faced with a series of class actions and inquiries from the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2017 and 2018. A lack of transparency from Apple led many to go out and buy new phones, as many claimed had they known of other options regarding battery renewal or improved performance, they would have stuck with their current device.
Fast forward to today, and some 66 class action complaints, 7 million pages of Apple materials and countless in-person mediations later, and Apple has settled the case, despite vigorously denying claims alleged in the Actions. And if you happen to be a US owner of an iPhone 6, 7, or SE and updated those phones to a specific version of iOS software before December 2017, Apple might just owe you $25 USD. The settlement still requires final approval, but so far these are the proposed terms.
Before you go running off to your nearest Apple store wielding your old phones however, know that Apple is yet to share information on where or how customers can file their claims. We’ll keep you updated with any news concerning the latter as it unfolds, but it might just be worth digging up that old iPhone if you still have it laying around.