Apple has found itself at the centre of a multimillion-pound lawsuit.
The American multinational technology company is being sued by consumer rights campaigner Justin Gutmann.
Gutmann has claimed Apple rolled out a software update which it knew would slow down some consumers’ phones, but that it advertised it instead as improving performance.
Millions of iPhone owners could be reimbursed if Apple loses the suit.
In January 2017, Apple released a software update which led to older iPhone models’ performance being negatively impacted.
The part of the update which caused the issues was an undocumented battery management system.
While it helped prevent older iPhones from shutting down completely without warning, it made the performance of the models a lot slower.
Gutmann has argued that users weren’t warned about the potential lags and delays such an update would cause their phones.
He also stated they also weren’t given the option to disable the setting.
Gutmann has subsequently launched a claim against the company at the Competition Appeals Tribunal.
The claim includes the following models: SE, iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6S, 6S Plus, 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus and iPhone X.
The consumer rights campaigner has argued that Apple knew full well that some older iPhone users’ devices would be compromised and negatively affected in speed by the update, but proceeded to push consumers into updating their phones anyway.
He also suggested they should have done ‘the honourable and legal thing by their customers’ and instead offered a replacement programme for the batteries, a recall or compensation.
Gutmann claims the company knew the batteries wouldn’t be able to keep up with the update and would ‘throttle’ the phones.
He accused Apple of having deliberately ‘misled people’ and ‘conceal[ed]’ the tool in the software update which ‘slowed [people’s] devices by 58 percent’.
It admitted the update did affect the performance of users’ phones if their battery was on its last legs or had gone cold.
It stated that the update was meant to actually allow for the phone to perform without any rogue shut downs, but that the price of it still being able to run was that it would ultimately work at a slower pace.
On Thursday (16 June), Apple released a statement in response to Gutmann’s lawsuit.
It said: “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 iPhones last as long as possible is an important part of that.”
The company has since detailed whether a phone could be at risk of throttling in the ‘battery health’ section of the iPhone’s settings menu.
If Gutmann wins the suit, around 25 million people who bought one of the models could receive compensation.
In total, the amount Apple could have to pay in damages – spread across the millions of iPhone consumers – totals £768 million ($932m).
The consumer rights campaigner concluded: “I’m launching this case so that millions of iPhone users across the UK will receive redress for the harm suffered by Apple’s actions.
“If this case is successful, I hope dominant companies will re-evaluate their business models and refrain from this kind of conduct.”