Consumer Group Sues Apple in Belgium and Spain Over iPhone Throttling
An EU consumer advocacy group has filed class-action lawsuits against Apple in both Belgium and Spain for "unfair and misleading commercial practices" related to the iPhone performance management system it introduced in iOS 10.2.1 without informing customers.
Brought by Euroconsumers, which describes itself as the "world's leading consumer cluster organization," the suits allege that the system introduced via iOS update in order to preserve battery life amount to "planned obsolescence."
In a press release on Wednesday, the group stated:
The lawsuits cover owners of iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6S and 6S Plus and alleges Apple engaged in unfair and misleading commercial practices. The lawsuits ask for compensation of on average at least 60 euro for each affected consumer in Belgium and Spain.
Apple introduced power management features for older iPhones to prevent unexpected shutdowns during times of peak power draw on devices with degraded batteries.
These power management features throttle the processor on older iPhones with less than optimal batteries, resulting in slower performance. Though introduced early in 2017, the power management features were not widely publicized until late 2017, leading many customers to feel deceived by Apple.
Apple apologized for not better explaining how battery health could impact performance and has since implemented a policy offering no-questions-asked $29 battery replacements for the iPhone 6 and later.
Earlier this year, the company also agreed to pay up to $500 million to settle a long-running class action lawsuit in the United States that accused the company of "secretly throttling" older iPhone models.
Euroconsumers references the latter settlement along with more recent state-level U.S. settlements in its press release, and says it has two identical suits planned for Italy and Portugal. Together, the four complaints seek about 180 million euros in damages from Apple, according to the Financial Times.
"Consumers are increasingly upset by products wearing out too quickly, the iPhone 6 models being a very concrete example of that," said Els Bruggeman, head of Policy and Enforcement at Euroconsumers. "Not only does it cause frustration and financial harm, from an environmental point of view it is also utterly irresponsible. Consumers want to be treated with respect, demand fair compensation and more sustainable phones. Euroconsumers is sending a clear message to Apple that planned obsolescence can no longer be accepted."