Apple to Pay $35m Settlement for iPhone 7 Audio Issues Lawsuit in the US

Apple has agreed to pay $35m to settle a lawsuit over audio issues with its iPhone 7 and 7 Plus models. Consumers in the US who bought one of the affected phones between 16 September 2016 and 3 January 2023 can claim between $50 and $394 if their handset had problems with the audio features. The lawsuit, known as Tubak versus Apple, alleged that the company “concealed” a “material defect” that caused the iPhone audio features to become unresponsive. Plaintiffs claimed that numerous requests had been made to repair the devices under warranty, but these had been declined. Apple has denied any wrongdoing, but opted to settle the lawsuit.

The lawsuit against Apple was filed in May 2019 by a group of customers who all purchased iPhone 7 and 7 Plus smartphones in 2017, only to develop audio issues the following year. The plaintiffs claimed that Apple had long been aware of the so-called Audio IC Defect, but refused to repair the devices without charge.

The plaintiffs’ allegation that Apple had engaged in “unfair, deceptive, and/or fraudulent business practices” was deemed serious enough by the company to merit a settlement. The litigation was “conducted in a manner giving rise to substantial aggravating circumstances,” according to the plaintiffs. Had they known the devices had audio defects at the time of purchasing them, they would have paid substantially less for them, they argued.

The settlement only applies to customers in the US who owned iPhone 7 or 7 Plus models between September 2016 and January 2023. To claim for a payout, customers must have lodged a complaint with Apple over the audio malfunction. They must also provide payment details to the settlement administrator. Customers who opt-in will forgo their right to sue in a separate lawsuit related to the alleged audio issues in the iPhones.

The final hearing on the settlement request will take place in July at the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

The fault with the phones affected audio features such as speakerphone, Siri commands and voice memos. Reports of the fault began to emerge in 2018, and it is uncertain whether the fault was linked to a design problem or a component that failed at a higher rate than expected. Apple never issued a recall for the devices, preferring instead to quietly deal with complaints made by its customers.

Analysts suggest that while the settlement is a relatively small amount for Apple to pay, it may deter further lawsuits related to audio issues in future iPhone models. The case highlights how class-actions can be an effective way for customers to pursue compensation or other forms of recompense against tech companies.

Apple has been involved in a series of legal disputes recently, including an ongoing lawsuit with Epic Games, makers of the popular Fortnite game, over payments taken via the App Store. As we reported recently, the case is expected to go to court in May, with both sides putting forward their arguments in a high-profile public trial


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