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Apple Sued Over Meltdown and Spectre in U.S. as iPhone Slowdown Lawsuits Now Total 45

Apple faces its first legal action over Meltdown and Spectre in the United States, even though the vulnerabilities were found to affect nearly all computers and other devices, according to court documents reviewed by MacRumors.


Meltdown and Spectre are serious hardware-based vulnerabilities that take advantage of the speculative execution mechanism of a CPU, allowing hackers to gain access to sensitive information. All modern Intel, ARM, AMD, and Nvidia processors are affected, with many patches and mitigations already released.

Anthony Bartling and Jacqueline Olson filed a class action complaint against Apple last week in a U.S. district court in San Jose on behalf of anyone who purchased a device with an ARM-based processor designed by Apple, ranging from the A4 to A11 Bionic chips used in iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Apple TV models.

The complaint alleges that Apple has known about the design defects giving rise to the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities since at least June 2017, and could have disclosed details to the public more promptly.

An excerpt from the complaint:

ARM Holdings PLC, the company that licenses the ARM architecture to Apple, admits that it was notified of the Security Vulnerabilities in June 2017 by Google’s Project Zero and that it immediately notified its architecture licensees (presumably, including Apple) who create their own processor designs of the Security Vulnerabilities.

The complaint added that it is unlikely Apple would be able to fully and adequately release fixes for Meltdown and Spectre without the performance of its processors decreasing by between five and 30 percent.

Apple addressed Meltdown in macOS High Sierra 10.13.2 and iOS 11.2, while Spectre mitigations were introduced in a macOS 10.13.2 supplemental update and iOS 11.2.2, both of which were released early last week. The vulnerabilities have also been addressed in older versions of macOS and OS X.

Despite one claim that Apple’s patch for Spectre resulted in a significant performance decrease on one developer’s iPhone 6s, Apple said its testing indicated that the Safari-based mitigations had no measurable impact on its Speedometer and ARES-6 tests and an impact of less than 2.5 percent on the JetStream benchmark.

The complaint expects at least 100 customers to be part of the proposed class, with the combined sum of compensatory and punitive damages expected to exceed $5 million if the case proceeds to trial.

A group of Israelis have filed a request with the Haifa District Court to file a class action lawsuit against Apple, Intel, and ARM over Meltdown and Spectre as well, according to local news publication Hamodia.

iPhone Slowdown Lawsuits Continue to Mount

Apple continues to face an increasing number of lawsuits that either accuse the company of intentionally slowing down older iPhones, or at least of failing to disclose power management changes it made starting in iOS 10.2.1.


In the United States, the iPhone maker now faces at least 39 class action complaints as of January 15, according to court documents compiled by MacRumors. Additional lawsuits have been filed in France, Israel, Russia, Korea, and Vietnam, with another pending in Canada, bringing the total to 45.

Many of the lawsuits demand Apple compensate all iPhone users who have experienced slowdowns, offer free battery replacements, refund customers who purchased brand new iPhones to regain maximum performance, and as Apple has already promised, add more detailed info to iOS about a device’s battery health.

We’ve already answered many frequently asked questions about Apple’s power management process, and covered the issue extensively, so read our past coverage for more information about the matter.

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TiVo sues Comcast again over alleged patent infringement

Though TiVo and Comcast just wrapped up a round of patent infringement litigation, TiVo’s looking for another go. Yesterday, it filed lawsuits in California and Massachusetts alleging that Comcast’s X1 set-top boxes are infringing on no less than eig…

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Uber will pay New York drivers $3 million in class-action settlement

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US Senator questions Apple about slowing older iPhones

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Ex-Google employee behind anti-diversity memo sues for discrimination

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Court rules Zepp has to stop selling its baseball and softball sensors

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Intel faces multiple lawsuits over chip security vulnerabilities

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Apple Now Faces 23+ Lawsuits for 'Purposefully' or 'Secretly' Slowing Down Older iPhones

Apple now faces over two dozen lawsuits around the world that either accuse the company of intentionally slowing down older iPhones, or at least of failing to disclose power management changes it made starting in iOS 10.2.1.


The lawsuits include 23 class action complaints in the United States, with the latest two filed on Thursday by Marc Honigman and Lauri Sullivan-Stefanou in New York and Ohio respectively, according to electronic court records reviewed by MacRumors. Apple is also being sued in Israel and France.

An excerpt from Sullivan-Stefanou’s complaint:

Unbeknownst to iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and iPhone 6s owners, Apple inserted code into iOS 10.2.1 that deliberately slowed down the processing performance of these phones by linking each phone’s processing performance with its battery health. Absent the code inserted by Apple, the reduced battery capacity of these phones would not have negatively affected processing performance.

Many of the lawsuits demand Apple compensate all iPhone users who have experienced slowdowns, offer free battery replacements, refund customers who purchased brand new iPhones to regain maximum performance, and add info to iOS explaining how replacing an iPhone’s battery can prevent slowdowns.

The legal action comes after Apple’s revelation it may at times dynamically manage the maximum performance of some older iPhone models with chemically aged batteries in order to prevent the devices from unexpectedly shutting down, an issue that can be made worse by cold temperatures or a low charge.

Apple never mentioned the power management changes, which it calls a feature, when it released iOS 10.2.1 nearly a year ago. A month after the software update became available, Apple still only vaguely mentioned that it made “improvements” that resulted in a significant reduction in unexpected shutdowns.

Apple only revealed exactly what the so-called “improvements” were after Primate Labs founder John Poole visualized that some iPhone 6s and iPhone 7 devices suddenly had lower benchmark scores starting with iOS 10.2.1 and iOS 11.2 respectively despite operating at maximum performance on previous versions.

Poole’s analysis was in response to a Reddit user who claimed his iPhone 6s was significantly faster after replacing the device’s battery. The discussion generated over 1,000 comments, and reinforced an opinion held by some that Apple purposefully slows down older iPhones so customers buy newer ones.

Honigman’s complaint, edited very slightly for clarity, echoes this opinion:

Apple’s intentional degradation of the iPhone’s performance through the release of iOS impacted the usability of the device. Effectively, Apple has forced the obsolescence of iPhones by secretly diminishing their performance. Thus, Apple’s admission has confirmed what iPhone users have long suspected – i.e., that Apple deliberately degrades the performance of older iPhone models through iOS updates to encourage users to buy new iPhones.

Apple has since issued an apology for its lack of communication, and it has reduced the price of battery replacements to $29 for iPhone 6 and newer through the end of 2018. Apple has also promised to release an iOS update early this year that will give users more visibility into the health of their iPhone’s battery.

Keep in mind that Apple is not permanently or persistently slowing down older iPhones. Even if your iPhone is affected, the performance limitations only happen intermittently, and only when the device is completing demanding tasks.

We recently answered many frequently asked questions about Apple’s power management process, which can’t be disabled, but can be avoided by replacing your iPhone’s battery if necessary. Read our guide on how to get an iPhone’s battery replaced at an Apple Store or Apple Authorized Service Provider.

Related Roundups: iPhone 6s, iPhone 7, iPhone SE
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Judge sides with Airbnb in lawsuit from US apartment landlord

Airbnb may have just dodged a bullet. A Los Angeles federal judge has ruled against major American landlord Apartment Investment & Management Co (AIMCO) in its lawsuit accusing Airbnb of helping tenants violate their lease agreements …

Spotify faces $1.6 billion lawsuit over song licensing

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Apple may face criminal charges in France over iPhone slowdowns

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Comcast accused of enrolling customers in programs without consent

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Court fines Apple for withholding evidence against Qualcomm

Apple and Qualcomm aren’t exactly the best of friends, so it’s quite surprising to hear that Cupertino is facing fines for failing to produce evidence for a lawsuit against the chipmaker. According to Bloomberg, a San Jose, California court has order…

Apple faces two lawsuits over intentional iPhone slowdowns

Well that was quick. Just two days after Apple admitted that it intentionally slowed down older iPhones with older batteries (to prevent sudden unexpected shutdowns), the company is being sued. Both suits claim that Apple does this to force cu…

Apple Being Sued for 'Purposefully Slowing Down Older iPhone Models'

Apple yesterday confirmed that it has implemented power management features in older iPhones to improve performance and prevent unexpected shutdowns as the battery in the devices starts to degrade, and this admission has now led to a class action lawsuit, which was first noticed by TMZ.

Los Angeles residents Stefan Bogdanovich and Dakota Speas, represented by Wilshire Law Firm, this morning filed a lawsuit with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California accusing Apple of slowing down their older iPhone models when new models come out.

Defendant breached the implied contracts it made with Plaintiffs and Class Members by purposefully slowing down older iPhone models when new models come out and by failing to properly disclose that at the time of that the parties entered into an agreement.

According to the lawsuit, Bogdanovich and Speas have owned the iPhone 7 and several older iPhone models and have noticed that their “older iPhone models slows (sic) down when new models come out.” The two say they did not consent to have Apple slow down their devices, nor were they able to “choose whether they preferred to have their iPhones slower than normal.”

They’re seeking both California and Nationwide class action certification, which would cover all persons residing in the United States who have owned iPhone models older than the iPhone 8.

Apple yesterday addressed speculation that it throttles the performance of older iPhones with degraded batteries, confirming that there are power management features in place to attempt to prolong the life of the iPhone and its battery. Apple implemented these features last year in iOS 10.2.1.

When an iPhone’s battery health starts to decline, the battery is not capable of supplying enough power to the iPhone in times of peak processor usage, which can lead to shutdowns.

“Our goal is to deliver the best experience for customers, which includes overall performance and prolonging the life of their devices. 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.

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.”

The lawsuit misrepresents Apple’s statement and suggests the plaintiffs and their lawyers do not understand how Apple’s iPhone power management features work nor why they were implemented. As explained by Apple, when an iPhone hits a peak of processor power, a degraded battery is sometimes unable to provide enough juice, leading to a shutdown. Apple “smooths out” peaks by limiting the power draw from the battery or by spreading power requests over several cycles.

Lithium-ion batteries degrade over time by nature, and this eventual wearing out is unrelated to the release of new iPhone models, so the lawsuit’s suggestion that Apple slows down older devices when new devices come out is incorrect.

Apple does not deny that iPhones with older batteries can sometimes see slower performance, but power management is a feature that’s been implemented to improve overall performance by preventing an iPhone from shutting down completely rather than a feature that’s been implemented to force users to upgrade by deliberately slowing devices.

As many people have suggested, Apple has done a poor job of explaining why it has implemented these power feature management and how the state of the battery ultimately affects iPhone performance. More transparent information about battery health should be provided, and customers should be better informed when their batteries start to degrade so they can choose whether or not to pay for a replacement. Apple may also need to relax its policies on when customers can pay for a battery replacement, as currently, a battery can’t be replaced unless in-store equipment registers it as near failing.

An iPhone’s battery is designed to retain 80 percent of its original capacity at 500 complete charge cycles. A defective battery that does not meet those parameters can be replaced for free for customers who have AppleCare+ or who have devices still under warranty.

For out of warranty customers, Apple offers a battery replacement service, which costs $79 plus $6.95 for shipping.

The lawsuit is demanding the replacement of the old iPhone and compensation for loss of use, loss of value, the purchase of new batteries, ascertainable losses in the form of the deprivation of the value of the iPhone, and overpayments because Plaintiffs and Class Members “did not receive what they paid for” when Apple interfered with the usage of their iPhones.

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Facebook job ads are being used to filter out older applicants

Facebook’s targeted ad tools have landed it in hot water again. Dozens of companies are placing recruitment ads restricted to select age groups on the social network, according to a joint investigation by ProPublica and The New York Times. They inclu…

Apple Sued for App Store Logo's Resemblance to Chinese Clothing Brand Logo

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As …

Kaspersky sues US government over federal software ban

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