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Apple settles iPhone hobbling case out of court

Gadget giant Apple had been the subject of a class action lawsuit alleging it deliberately slowed older iPhones in order to compel customers to upgrade.

Now Reuters reports that Apple decided to settle the suit out of court, while at the same time maintaining its innocence. The settlement seems to be capped at a payout of $500 million, even though it’s not yet known how many devices might qualify for a compensation payment. Claimants will probably get around $25 per phone.

The allegation is that older iPhones noticeably slowed after Apple software updates. That in turn made their owners believe their phones were knackered and that it was time to upgrade. They seem to think Apple deliberately slowed their phones in order to shift more product. Apple insists the slowing could have been down to all sorts of other things such as, somewhat implausibly, temperature changes.

The reason Apple apparently gave for settling even though it didn’t think it had done anything wrong was that it couldn’t be bothered with the hassle of litigation. Qualcomm, among others, will have been surprised at Apple’s sudden reluctance to unleash its lawyers. The Apple we thought we knew would never have hesitated to litigate so long as it thought it had a chance of winning, which makes you wonder whether this claim had more merit than it would have us believe.

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