3 min Devices

‘Batterygate’: did Apple conceal faulty batteries with software updates?

‘Batterygate’: did Apple conceal faulty batteries with software updates?

Apple has unsuccessfully tried to block a lawsuit in London. The tech giant allegedly knew it was putting faulty batteries in various iPhone models. The company has been accused of curtailing the performance of its chips to cover up this fact.

On Wednesday, London’s Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) ruled that Apple could not block the class-action lawsuit led by Justin Gutmann. The latter is taking this legal action for 24 million iPhone users in the U.K. with a damages claim that could reach up to 1.6 billion pounds (1.83 billion euros).

Gutmann’s lawyers argue that the batteries of the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6S, 6S Plus, 7, 7 Plus and SE (2016) were inadequate for the chips they came with. Apple provided these phones with a power management tool via an update that it claimed would prolong battery life long-term.

Before the lawsuit begins, Gutmann and co must provide more “clarity and specificity” regarding their claims, according to the CAT.

In trouble before

For Apple, it’ll all be a familiar story by now. After all, it settled a similar lawsuit in America for $500 million in 2020. The judicial matter at the time involved the iPhone 6, 6S and 7 (including Plus variants).

Meanwhile, Apple’s actual explanation for this phenomenon is already six years old. At the time, several users on Reddit and Twitter, among others, had noted that their iPhones reached lower clock speeds and performed measurably worse than it had before. A battery replacement appeared to restore performance back to its original level. Apple’s response to all this in late 2017 was that their goal was “to deliver the best experience for customers, which includes overall performance and prolonging the life of their devices.” Because lithium-ion batteries deteriorate over time and through regular use, Apple said they wanted to prevent an iPhone from failing unexpectedly.


The fact is that every charging cycle of a lithium-ion battery is destructive. Over time, it’s no longer possible to return every ion to the anode from the cathode. Because the greatest damage when charging is done in the highest percentages, Apple recently released an “Optimized Charging” feature for the iPhone 15 to disallow the battery from charging beyond 80 percent.

Thus, Apple’s earlier choice to spare iPhone batteries via software updates has cost the company dearly. For that reason, in the case of the iPhone 15 feature, it seems to be opting for transparency, which was lacking at the time until users found out about the matter. Meanwhile, other phones also use such options, only they are user-selectable. In Android, this feature is called Adaptive Battery, and battery charging adapts to the user’s behaviour. Even with that feature, a phone can become slower, but again, this is a transparently communicated opt-in feature to ensure a device lasts longer.

Also read: EU’s vision for the future of batteries faces tough challenges