Does Apple slow down older iPhones to increase sales? A lawsuit raises the possibility (includes multimedia content)

In middle school, the most popular phones that everyone had were the sidekick and the Motorola flip.

Those phones would last for years, and some still turn on.

Today, smartphones don’t have nearly as much longevity as those classic devices from decades ago do.

Apple is a worldwide household name when it comes to smartphones. Over the years, it has continued to unveil new models every fall, but many users complain of their older models slowing down every time a new model drops.

According to Mac Rumors, the issue was discovered in 2017 by John Poole, the founder of Primate Labs, after he saw how low the performance scores were for iOS 10.2.1. This software had “throttling” built in it, which caused the older devices to slow down.

The devices affected were owned by U.S. residents and ranged from the iPhone 6, 6s, 6 Plus 6s Plus, 7, 7 Plus, and SE — which all ran on iOS 10.2.1.

Also included in the lawsuit were iPhone models 7 and 7 Plus that ran on iOS 11.2 or later before Dec. 21, 2017.

The throttling of devices caused dozens of class-action lawsuits to be filed from December 2017 to June 2018 and are shown in the court document below.

(Source: United States District Court Northern District of California)

The number of approved claims had a lot to do with the district court of Northern California bringing legal charges against the tech giant for throttling software.

News of the lawsuit helped some Apple users see they had also experienced throttling before it became a legal issue. “I have been with Apple since the iPhone 3 and I was shocked to find out about the lawsuit,” said Ciara Owens, a faithful Apple user and college student.

“I started noticing the apps would be slow to open and the screen would freeze at random times, especially around the time that new iPhones were released.”

The lawsuit against Apple began in early 2018 and was settled in late 2020.

The case continued well into mid-2021 since all the money owed had to be paid out to claimants and the case had to be documented by the state of California from start to finish.

According to Phone Arena, “The settlement will require Apple to make payments in a range totaling $310 million – $500 million…Each iPhone owner that qualifies for the payment will receive $25.”

Anyone who was a part of the class-action lawsuit against Apple that was documented in court was eligible to receive their check in the mail.

Also, a website was created for claimants who still did not receive their checks and were eligible to get compensated.

As the lawsuit begin to pay out, Apple employees worldwide were faced with customers who had questions about compensation. “We were all trained on how to let the customer know that this is an ongoing issue that we are resolving,” said Alexis Progler, former Apple employee.

“We were told to direct them to the legal statements on Apple’s website and our corporate offices for any lawsuit questions. We offered replacement devices or attempted to fix the software issue for free in-store…”

Despite this lawsuit, Apple has not seen much change in its sales per quarter. Apple is one of the largest tech giants worldwide and their continued success in the face of adversity shows that.

Apple’s revenue shows little change following the lawsuit and settlement, as shown in the graph below.

Apple still gets support from their faithful users regardless of their issues, “I knew something was very wrong when while trying to text people back, the keyboard would be slow to type the letters I would press,” said Kevin Hon, lawsuit claimant.

“I did everything I could, such as restarting my device, resetting it, and updating the software, but nothing changed,” he added. “I started searching online to see if anyone had been having the same issues with their device and that is how I found out about the throttling lawsuit.

“I joined the class-action lawsuit and was compensated. The money wasn’t much since it’s spread amongst a lot of people, he added. “I couldn’t get a new device with it, so I just decided to buy a new phone because I refuse to leave Apple.”

Apple has been a constant in the smartphone world for so long that customers still support them despite mistakes.

Today, they are still one of the highest-earning tech companies worldwide.

Shaun’ta Ransom is a senior at Florida International University. She is a South Florida native that enjoys meeting and talking to new people. She is especially interested in art, marketing and social media.