You’ve likely heard this familiar refrain from your friends and family: “I swear Apple is slowing down my old iPhone!” That conspiratorial tech lament is a common one, but the result of a recent lawsuit may lend it some credence. The New York Times is reporting that Apple has agreed to a proposed settlement of up to $500 million—one that will net some iPhone owners $25 apiece—from a lawsuit that alleged the company did indeed slow down older model iPhones.
The lawsuit was filed in 2018 after a group of customers became frustrated with their iPhones and the seemingly slower processing power with older models. After a two-year court battle, Apple acquiesced to simply make the issue go away and avoid lengthier (and costlier) litigation. They also admitted no wrongdoing.
There’s a chance you’ve experienced a similar issue with earlier model iPhones after newer editions have been rolled out. The software lags, your mail seems to take longer than usual to populate your inbox—frustrating, to be sure. But is it possible that there’s some subconscious bias driving your interpretation of your phone’s performance, or it’s just … out-of-date? Also possible. And that mix of uncertainly probably contributed to Apple’s motivation for agreeing to settle.
The cost-benefit of continually dragging the case through the courts just doesn’t make sense.
Smartphones run the world, and when they begin to operate in a less-than-optimal way, it can cause intense frustration—frustration enough to file a lawsuit about it. We don’t really know if Apple was intentionally slowing down its older iPhones, but we do know that the issue was enough of a PR headache for them to agree to issue the cash to make it disappear.