The case stems from Apple’s “Batterygate” controversy. In 2017, iPhone users discovered that iOS artificially limited processor speeds as phone batteries aged. This was meant to stop real problems with performance, since it reduced stress on the battery and could prevent accidental shutdowns (irrespective of the battery’s percentage). But Apple didn’t reveal the feature’s existence, leading people to believe their phones were simply slowing down from age. In lawsuits, users claimed that they bought all-new devices to fix the problem — but if they’d known about this feature, they could have replaced the battery instead.
Apple has tentatively agreed to a $500 million settlement after admitting to slowing down older phones. The deal would provide small payouts for many iPhone owners in the US, plus greater compensation for named class members and attorneys. It covers people who bought any product in the iPhone 6 and 7 lineup — which Apple secretly throttled to conserve battery life.
The settlement was filed in a California court last Friday and is awaiting final court approval. The deal — which took months to negotiate — would resolve dozens of class action lawsuits that were filed between 2017 and 2018, then later consolidated into one complaint. By default, Apple will offer $25 to any current or former owner of a covered iPhone. Named class members will receive $1,500 or $3,500, and around $90 million will go toward attorneys. The settlement has a minimum payout of $310 million, so the payment might increase if few people file claims. Conversely, if payments exceed the $500 million cap, each iPhone owner will receive less money.
French and Italian authorities have already censured Apple for the throttling controversy, with France announcing a €25 million fine last month. The US Justice Department also announced an investigation in 2018. Apple also dropped the cost of battery replacements and offered partial refunds to some iPhone owners who paid for a new battery.