Apple iPhone owners soon may see a settlement payment coming their way.

Angela Lang/CNET

iPhone owners who were part of the 2020 class-action lawsuit against the company should finally be receiving their piece of the payout after Apple admitted to slowing down its older phones.

With so many phones to choose from, people buy their handsets for the features, like cameras or messaging apps, or simply for the brand name. But with so much of our lives oriented around the phones we’re using all day long, the less glamorous aspect of battery life is often front and center. Especially when it’s suddenly at a very low percentage.

Owners of older iPhones noticed back in 2017 that their phones were running more slowly, and their batteries draining quickly. They were right. That same year, Apple admitted that its iOS software had slowed down the performance of older iPhones, but said there was a reason for it: As the lithium-ion batteries in the older phones aged, they didn’t hold a charge as well, and could unexpectedly shut down. The software slowed performance of those phones to prevent this, the company said.

As former CNET reporter Shara Tibken wrote, some people have long believed Apple hinders older devices to encourage customers to buy new models, which is something Apple has denied. But that belief only aggravated debate over Apple’s lack of transparency about the phone slowdowns.

The lawsuit was successful, and in August 2023, a judge cleared the way for payments to proceed. Some iPhone owners are reporting online that they are already seeing the money — here’s what to know.

How did Apple respond to the lawsuit?

The company apologized for its lack of transparency, updated its software and offered battery replacements. In 2017, the company said, “We know that some of you feel Apple has let you down,” and said it has never done anything to “intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades.”

The company has a lengthy page on its site discussing iPhone performance in relation to the battery. It warns that on older phones, iOS “dynamically manages performance peaks to prevent the device from unexpectedly shutting down so that the iPhone can still be used.”

How much will class members receive?

Apple agreed to pay a minimum of $310 million and a maximum of $500 million to settle the lawsuit. The settlement agreement required the company pay owners of certain iPhone models $25 per device, with that amount dependent on the number of claims.

According to SiliconValley.com, there have been around 3 million claims, meaning class members will receive about $65 per eligible phone.

However, as MacRumors reported earlier Saturday, several class members received payments of $92.17 per claim, beginning on Jan. 6.

“Nice thing to wake up to on a Saturday morning — especially after 3.5 years of waiting!” wrote Michael Burkhardt on X (formerly Twitter), sharing a snippet of a deposit statement showing he received six $92.17 payments.

A representative for Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.  

Why did payments take so long?

As is perhaps appropriate for a lawsuit about slowed-down phones, the payouts were slowed down. Two iPhone owners who objected to some of the terms of the settlement lost their appeal in the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals back in August. The effective date of the settlement is Nov. 6, 2023.

Who is eligible to receive a payment?

The iPhones included in the settlement were the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6S, 6S Plus and SE running iOS 12.2.1 or later, as well as the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus if they were running iOS 11.2 or later before Dec. 21, 2017. 

It’s too late to get in on the settlement if you haven’t already done so; the window for joining the class has closed. The deadline for submitting a claim was Oct. 6, 2020. More details about the settlement are available here.

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