Apple ordered to pay 70,000 won each to 7 iPhone users for device slowdown

December 6, 2023

An appellate court on Wednesday ordered Apple Inc. to pay 70,000 won (US$53.30) in compensation to each of seven South Korean iPhone users for intentionally slowing the performance of their devices after software updates, partially overturning contrary rulings by lower courts.

The Seoul High Court said Apple is responsible for compensation to the consumers because they suffered psychological damage due to the infringement on their right to choose.

The decision came after lower courts ruled against more than 62,000 South Korean iPhone users in lawsuits seeking 200,000 won each in compensation from Apple over allegations that the company purposely slowed the performance of older models after software updates to compel users to buy new ones.

Seven of the plaintiffs appealed and obtained the compensation decision from the appellate court.

“Even if the software update was intended to prevent the device from powering off, it limited the performance of the CPU and others. Apple had a duty to provide a sufficient explanation to help buyers choose whether to install the update, but it violated the obligation,” the court said.

Accepting only part of the plaintiffs’ claims, however, the Seoul High Court dismissed their allegations that Apple’s software update was tantamount to the distribution of malicious programs or damaged their iPhone devices.

The long-running scandal dubbed “batterygate” dates back to late 2017, when allegations arose that the global tech giant artificially hampered the performance of selected iPhone models to preserve the devices’ battery life.

Apple had first denied purposely slowing down iPhone batteries. But the company later announced it did so to preserve battery life and argued that the measure was not aimed at getting users to buy new devices.

Shortly after the high court’s decision, Apple released a statement saying the company did not do anything to “intentionally shorten the life” of any of its products or “degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades.”