South Korean Court Dismisses iPhone Users' $1.6 Million 'Batterygate' Lawsuit
A South Korean court on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit seeking compensation from Apple over allegations the company deliberately slowed down the performance of older iPhones in order to compel customers to buy new models (via The Korea Herald).
"The lawsuit is dismissed," a court judge briefly said, without elaborating as to the reason for the ruling, denying the case brought by some 9,800 Korean smartphone buyers who were seeking 2 billion won ($1.64 million) against Apple.
The ruling comes five years after a group of consumers filed a civil lawsuit demanding damages of 200,000 won ($163) each. Initially brought by some 64,000 plaintiffs, the lawsuit claimed that Apple had induced some iPhone users to install a software upgrade that caused a performance slowdown so that users would consider replacing their devices with new ones.
The case relates to Apple's introduction in early 2017 of 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.
The power management features were not widely publicized until late 2017, leading many customers to feel deceived by Apple.
Apple denied that it misled users, but later admitted that it slowed down some older iPhones with degraded batteries during times of peak power usage in order to prevent unexpected shutdowns. The company subsequently accepted that it should have provided a clearer explanation when it introduced the power management feature in iOS 10.2.1.
Following an apology, Apple implemented a battery replacement program that allowed all customers with an iPhone 6, 6s, 7, 6 Plus, 6s Plus, 7 Plus, and SE to replace their batteries for a reduced fee through the end of 2018.
Apple also introduced better battery monitoring features in a later iOS update, including the ability for customers to turn off the power management feature it introduced in iOS 10.2.1.
The Korean ruling stands in contrast with similar lawsuits brought against Apple in other countries. Apple in 2020 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. Apple faced similar lawsuits in Belgium, Chile, Spain, Italy, and Portugal.