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Apple to pay up to $500 million in iPhone throttling settlement

Apple was first accused of throttling older iPhones in 2018, and now the company is paying for it. According to a report from Reuters, Apple agreed to a preliminary settlement of up to $500 million, including a payout of around $25 per impacted iPhone.

The lawsuit only covers U.S. iPhone owners, and only covers the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, and iPhone SE. Named class members in the suit will get either $1,500 or $3,500, and $90 million of the settlement will go toward attorney fees.

The lawsuit dates back to 2017, when Apple was accused of throttling older iPhones — leading users to believe that their devices were at the end of the lifespan. Apple later admitted that it was throttling iPhones — but was doing so to prevent unwanted shutdowns caused by older batteries not being able to maintain peak performance. The throttling feature was rolled out as part of iOS 10.2.1, however at the time it wasn’t communicated to customers.

Soon after the feature was discovered in 2017, Apple released a software update that allowed users to disable throttling if they wanted to. Of course, the result of disabling the feature is that your iPhone might switch off thanks to the fact that the aging battery can’t sustain peak performance any more. Because of the impact of battery on performance, if you get a new battery for your older iPhone, you may experience a performance boost.

As a result of the controversy, Apple apologized and discounted battery replacements to only $29 in 2018.  It also changed how newer iPhones handle battery performance, including smart features that minimize the impact of throttling. In Italy, Apple was forced to add a message on its website apologizing for the scandal, and even paying a fine. Only a few months ago, France’s competition and fraud watchdog agency hit Apple with a 25 million euro fine.

Dozens of lawsuits were filed in the months following the discovery, however the U.S. Judicial Panel combined the lawsuits — so this settlement should cover all of them.

Apple has long been accused of “planned obsolescence,” where the company pushed software updates that slow down iPhones, resulting in users being forced to upgrade. While this situation isn’t necessarily a case of that, it still doesn’t do much to convince users that Apple isn’t forcing upgrades.

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