back to article Charging your iPhone literally costs Apple millions as Batterygate saga slams shut

Apple's "Batterygate" legal saga is finally swinging shut – in the US, at least – with a final appeal being voluntarily dismissed, clearing the way for payouts to class members. The US lawsuit, which combined 66 separate class actions into one big legal proceeding in California, was decided in 2020, with the outcome requiring …

  1. aerogems Silver badge

    I have plenty of issues with the way Apple conducts aspects of its business, and if it weren't so obsessed with secrecy they probably could have avoided this lawsuit entirely by simply announcing what they were doing and why -- then implementing the opt-out feature once the wailing and gnashing of teeth began.

    Still, I really just don't get this case. You have a battery that is worn enough it can't always keep up with sudden demands for power and causes the phone to reboot. Apple has basically two choices at this point. They can do nothing and just leave their customers in the lurch with phones that will spontaneously reboot when power demands spike, or they can alter the software to try to work around the issue and provide a better (overall) experience. For their efforts they get sued.

    1. gcarter

      Totally agreed with @aerogems...

      ... luddites who took offence of not being told their ancient phone was being optimised behind the scenes... how dare you 

      Bloody yanks using every possibility to sue!

      1. NoneSuch Silver badge

        After the lawyers take their cut the $65 payouts will be reduced down to $0.07.

        Spawn of Satan icon covers pretty much everyone in this case.

    2. The BigYin

      Although I agree, popping up a "Your battery is an ex-battery. Do you with to optimise or play Random Reboot Roulette?" notification would have gone some way to resolving matters.

      Or they can make batteries replacable, but there still needs to be a prompt to the user to go and get that done.

      1. ianbetteridge

        The batteries are replaceable – they're just only officially replaceable by Apple and it's approved service partners. Which isn't good enough, of course.

        1. Orv Silver badge

          Given that Apple charges less than $100 for most battery replacements, I don't think there's much room for a 3rd party to profit by doing them.

      2. aerogems Silver badge

        You won't get any argument out of me that they could have handled it better in retrospect, but I mean... they didn't HAVE to do anything. They could have effectively told customers tough luck, let us know if you want to buy a new phone. They went out of their way to try to provide a better experience for customers on older devices (which were likely long out of warranty) in the broadest number of use cases.... and their reward is a lawsuit.

        On the whole battery replacement front, I'm kind of split in my opinion. On the one hand, Apple actually stocks batteries for some pretty old devices and will charge a pretty reasonable rate to replace them. The sealed design also lets them do things like waterproofing and add a couple mm of extra battery instead of the hard plastic shell needed to keep some idiot from jamming their finger into the battery. But, the way they force you to go to an Apple store, or one of very few large companies they allow to do this, smacks of monopolistic practices like several other aspects of Apple's business.

        1. Orv Silver badge

          I mean, at least they *have* stores. I had a Sony phone that needed a screen replacement and I had to just throw it out. There's no Sony Store and no third-party repair place would touch it.

    3. doublelayer Silver badge

      The suit exists because they engaged in a few deceptive practices which people didn't understand. The initial story, which isn't the whole truth but did happen, is that Apple slowed down their phones (to delay the boot problems) but didn't tell anyone. When people complained about their phones being slow, Apple told them to buy a new one rather than admitting what had been done. By the way, we aren't talking about devices that were six years old when this started happening. The batteries would reach the level of degradation where the throttling was enabled in about a year. This leads us to the next deceptive practice.

      The batteries they put into affected devices were not good enough. I don't think this was deliberate, although some have alleged that it was, but I assume Apple specified batteries that couldn't provide enough additional voltage to run their boards. Had phones started failing as quickly as they did, a lot of people would have been covered by the warranty, including everyone who had the extended Apple Care. By slowing down the CPU without telling people, they were able to delay the problem until that coverage expired. I owned one of these devices and never disabled the CPU throttling. It still eventually got to the point of repeatedly crashing, rebooting, going from 60% battery to 4% battery in five minutes, etc. It just took a bit longer to reach that point. Does this happen to any old device you have? I've used laptops to the point where their batteries last very little time, but they still don't spontaneously fail like that. People have suggested that this was Apple's attempt to avoid warranty claims for another hardware failure, something that Apple has done repeatedly.

      I don't think they were malicious about this or knew from the start that they were going to limit their phones in that way. However, as Louis Rossman has said, when Apple repeatedly has hardware flaws and avoids warranty requirements on them, and each of them just happens to earn them money, then it becomes reasonable to ask whether it was deliberate or if they have failed in their duty to their customers. There is consumer protection law to handle this in a lot of countries.

      1. aerogems Silver badge

        Thanks for that. Seriously. It's like the McDonalds coffee case which is a lot more nuanced than "lady spills coffee on herself, sues McDonalds." I still am not sure I really agree it was worthy of a lawsuit, but it does at least provide much needed context to the plaintiff's side.

    4. DS999 Silver badge

      I agree it is overblown, but it was making that change without telling people that got them in trouble. Had they done it and told people, and if people complained give them a way to change the behavior in settings (which they ended up doing) instead of this big black eye and $500 million payout it would have been a single Reg article that we all would have forgotten about years ago.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No. They had the option to be up front at the start on battery life. They had the option not to keep making IoS battery hungry. They had the option to make battery replacement easy and cheap before being forced to. Lets not polish this turd. The whole intention was to force people to upgrade. Nothing more and nothing less. Apple are scum who will always put profit over users then gloss it over with some hipster dancing crap about how "cool" it is to have apple. How can you defend them? They were forced into the position they are now, they never offered to fix peoples phones or offer battery upgrades. FORCED. That tells you all you need to know.

      1. Orv Silver badge

        "Not making iOS as battery hungry" is exactly the slowdown they got in trouble for.

  2. Proton_badger


    Well, they didn't exactly throttle to slow battery drain as the article claims. They throttled to prevent the sudden reboot when the CPU got busy and a sudden voltage drop occurred from an ageing battery.

    I had a LG phone, I knew it was time to replace the battery when it started rebooting seemingly randomly. I've know people who replaced then phone at that point because they didn't know the cause.

    As numerous others have said: a notification would have been nice.

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: Reboot

      when it started rebooting seemingly randomly

      Yep a lot of people will assume "the phone is bad" not that the battery is bad. If it was shutting down or showing battery percentage falling fast it would be obvious to even the average person who lacks any technical knowledge that it is the battery that's gone. And instead of getting a new phone they could get the battery replaced for $50 or whatever and have a phone that works like it did when it was new (assuming it was replaced with a legit battery and not some cheap knockoff)

      It works out better for LG I suppose if a lot of people think "I need a new phone", at least to the extent they buy another LG instead of saying "man this LG died after only a couple years I'm getting Samsung this time".

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: Reboot

        Everybody else: Hmm, the phone's dying. Time for a new phone.

        Engineers: Hmm, the battery's dying. Time for a new battery.[1]

        [1] Yes, I know in most cases it's a single cell, but the boat's long sailed on the cells/battery nomenclature front.

  3. Malcolm Weir


    As others have suggested, there's really no technical malfeasance here; Apple recognized a problem with legacy devices with newer software and implemented steps to mitigate the issue.

    The malfeasance is that, in it's fetish for pretending that Apple hardware is totally fabulous (or "totes fab", as the kids say) and not trumpeting the cleverness of the software in avoiding issues even with your old crud, Apple hid what it was doing, surprising people who expected their beloved shiny to remain in it's immaculate perfection for evah!!!

  4. Someone Else Silver badge

    Wow, 65 whole Dollars!

    Or, otherwise known as lunch for 3 at Jimmy Johns.

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Wow, 65 whole Dollars!

      $65 is about 10x what I've seen paid out from other class actions.

      1. RM Myers

        Re: Wow, 65 whole Dollars!

        I've had 2 class action payments that were less than $1 USD, and 1 class action which gave me a discount off of "full fare" on airline tickets. I never used the later, since you could get tickets cheaper without the discount as long as you didn't wait until the last minute. Almost no one actually used the airline "discounts", but the attorneys pocketed well over $100 million USD

  5. DoctorNine

    Old Man Yells At Cloud!

    So basically, at this point, you've got no choice. You are tied to one walled garden or the other. I've stopped buying newer Apple iPhones, because I want a 3.5 port. So I've gone to the trouble of learning how to take apart and repair my iPhone SE myself when it needs work. I've done it enough, that I can replace the batttery pretty quickly when needed. Just replaced the screen a month ago, actually. I even have a brand new one in the box to switch to, when repairing this one will no longer work. By that time, changes in the cellular network will be the use limiting factor, not battery life. By then, I'll probably have something imbedded in my cochlea. "Hello SkyNet, it's DoctorNine!"

    These phones are consumer electronic devices. They will not last forever. They will occasionally break. I think blaming Apple for this is kind of missing the point.

    1. DarthKegRaider

      Re: Old Man Yells At Cloud!

      I have a LOT of consumer electronic devices that are still functional, and some even older than the Apple fanboi club. My old Atari 2600 still works fine as a consumer device if that counts?

      1. Orv Silver badge

        Re: Old Man Yells At Cloud!

        A capacitor blew in my Apple IIe's power supply a couple weeks ago. Maybe I should sue Apple for planned obsolescence. Come to think of it they haven't released an OS update for that thing in decades!

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