Apple Inc., the technology giant known for its sleek design and cutting-edge products, is in the middle of a legal storm. A proposed class of Apple customers has approached a California federal judge, seeking preliminary approval for a $35 million settlement in a long-standing legal dispute. The crux of the issue? The alleged sale of iPhone 7 smartphones was riddled with audio defects.
The lawsuit was initially initiated back in May 2019 by a woman named Lisa Tabak and a group of iPhone users. They claimed that an audio system defect in the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus affected the audio chip on the logic board, causing sound disruptions. The bending of the iPhone's casing during normal usage was said to sever the connection between the audio chip and logic board, resulting in audio malfunctions that affected features like phone calling and Siri.
Over the course of the lawsuit, some claims were dismissed through multiple rounds of amendments. However, the judge did not dismiss the entire case, leading the parties to enter into mediation in 2021.
The Proposed Settlement
The estimated payout would range from $50 to $349.
If approved, the settlement would provide compensation to class members who paid out-of-pocket expenses for repairing or replacing their iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus phones due to specific audio-related issues. The estimated payout would range from $50 to $349.
Additionally, class members who reported the alleged problems to Apple but did not incur repair costs could receive up to $125. A hearing regarding the motion is scheduled for June 29.
Apple has received approximately 2 million complaints from iPhone 7 and 7 Plus owners regarding the alleged audio issues. Out of these complaints, around 113,000 iPhone owners paid an average of $193 to repair or replace their devices, which were originally sold for around $649 or $769.
What Does This Mean for iPhone 7 Owners?
The proposed settlement presents a unique opportunity for iPhone 7 owners who have experienced these audio issues. If the settlement is approved, they would be entitled to compensation for their repair or replacement costs.
The administrator estimates that about 210,000 class members will submit valid claims. This means a large number of affected users could potentially benefit from this settlement.
The current proposed settlement is not the first instance where Apple has found itself in such a situation. The motion for approval cites previous multimillion-dollar settlements reached by Apple in similar cases.
For instance, they mention a $53 million settlement in a case called In re Apple iPhone/iPod Warranty Litigation, which was approved in 2014. They also refer to a recent $50 million preliminary settlement in the In re MacBook Keyboard Litigation, which is still awaiting final approval.
As the date of the hearing approaches, it will be intriguing to see how this case unfolds and what it means for iPhone 7 owners, Apple, and the broader smartphone market. While the proposed settlement would provide some relief to affected users, it also raises questions about the durability and reliability of Apple's products. It will be interesting to see how Apple responds to this challenge and if this case will spur the company to improve its quality control measures further.