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Apple faces lawsuits over software that slows iPhone performance

Apple is the target of eight lawsuits filed in various federal courts this week, which all allege that it is defrauding iPhone users by slowing their devices down without warning to compensate for poor battery performance. The lawsuits, which plaintiffs filed in U.S. district courts in California, New York, and Illinois, seek reimbursements for represent potentially millions of iPhone users across the United States.

The company had acknowledged the slowdown affect last week for the first time. It said that software updates it had implemented in the past year for the iPhone 6, 6s, SE, and 7 included a feature to “smooth out” aging batteries’ power supplies by throttling phone performance.

Without this adjustment, iPhones would have shut down abruptly because the aging batteries would be fried if forced to continue operating at the regular processing speeds, the company said. This disclosure took place only after a December 18 analysis by Primate Labs, which develops a performance-measuring app for iPhones. Primate Labs’ report identified impeded processing speed in many phones and determined that a software change was causing them.

But Apple could have just replaced the batteries instead, the lawsuits argue. One lawsuit, filed Thursday in San Francisco, states that Apple was using the software change to cover up the battery problem.

“Rather than curing the battery defect by providing a free battery replacement for all affected iPhones, Apple sought to mask the battery defect,” according to the complaint. It added that users experiencing slowed performance may have mistakenly chosen to buy new iPhones, not knowing that all they really had to do was replace the batteries for a fraction of the cost.

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