Apple faces lawsuits over its intentional slowing iPhones

Apple was hit with a lawsuit Thursday alleging that it deliberately ” Slowing iPhones processors” in older models of the iPhone without the consent of the phone owners.

The suit, which seeks class-actions status, argues in a complaint filed Thursday in Los Angeles, that some iPhone users “notice that their older iPhone models slows down when new models come out,” and that they “never consented to allow” Apple to “slow their iPhones.”

The legal move comes after Apple revealed that its new software updates slow down older iPhone devices in order to allow the batteries in older models to keep up with new features.

Slowing iPhones

“Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, have a low battery charge or as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components,” Apple said in a statement.

The statement continued, “Last year we released a feature for iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone SE to smooth out the instantaneous peaks only when needed to prevent the device from unexpectedly shutting down during these conditions. We’ve now extended that feature to iPhone 7 with iOS 11.2, and plan to add support for other products in the future.”

“If you have an old iPhone with an old battery in it, Apple may be slowing down your phone via software so the phone doesn’t automatically shut off someplace, or do something else,” Sten said.

Some iPhone users, however, told Technology Decoded News they believe slowing down older models is an intentional move by Apple in order to get more people to purchase new iPhones.

“I think once you upgrade your phone it works slower on the later models so that you are forced to go into the newer one and pay the extra $1,000 to get a new phone,”

Another iPhone customer, Emil Peguero, echoed Prozr’s sentiments, telling Technology Decoded  News, “I feel like Apple keeps coming up with new products and new products and slowing down the other versions so that you have to buy the new version.”

Stent said, however, that iPhone users can avoid buying a whole new phone and simply replace their older phone’s battery to avoid having their processor slowed down with Apple’s software updates.

“If you put a better battery in and the battery healthy is better, it is not going to downclock those speeds,” Stent said. “The processor will run at normal speeds.”

Replacing an iPhone battery in-store costs $79, according to Apple. Meanwhile, the price for Apple’s latest versions of the iPhone, the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, start at $699 and $999 respectively.

Qualcomm files suit against Apple, seeking import ban for infringing iProducts

Apple vs Qualcomm

The Apple vs Qualcomm drama has taken a turn for the dramatic. Today Qualcomm has fired back its own complaint against the ITC, and filed a suit in California, claiming that Apple is infringing on Qualcomm’s patents and that an import ban on the infringing products is justified. The suit is only against products which use modems “other than those supplied by Qualcomm’s affiliates,” which, presumably, means the Intel modems that Apple has chosen to use in some models. 

Qualcomm claims that the six patents included in the suit are not part of any industry standard and that it is therefore not obliged to offer to license them as part of those standards. Qualcomm also released an interesting infographic PDF about the suit, as well, for anyone interested in how the company is choosing to market the details of the case

Qualcomm suitt Apple

Most of the patents in question don’t seem to point to hardware (except #8,487, 658) but almost exclusively apply to optimizations in software to improve performance. Qualcomm’s marketing fact-sheet doesn’t do a great job of illustrating what each does since it reduces most things down to the technical level of “data super-highways,” but you can generally understand it. Generally, they apply to methods of saving power, often while transmitting data, by cutting the right corners.

Qualcomm expects the ITC to respond in August, and that the case filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California will begin next year. Both the ITC complaint and the lawsuit are almost assuredly a response to Apple’s suit filed earlier this year.

I hate to editorialize too much in this circumstance, but the content and complexity of this matter almost beg it. So if you don’t want my opinion on the subject, you can stop here and consider yourself informed about the general details of the case.

Even leaving aside the curiosity that Qualcomm isn’t also pursuing an action against Intel for being the manufacturer and supplier of the potentially infringing modems, I think it’s fairly clear that this is just a counter-claim being made to force Apple to back down or commit even more resources to the fight. While it’s possible their claims are legitimate, the timing is questionable. Meanwhile, Qualcomm is still in the middle of an FTC antitrust investigation, and in the press release for this lawsuit, it is advertising the fact that the patents involved aren’t being FRAND licensed. It’s stunning. That image alone, I think, is illustrative.

Regardless of opinion, this is definitely not the last that we will hear in the ongoing Qualcomm saga. The full press release is available below: