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Owners of Older iPhones Could Get $25 From Apple in Settlement

Money stems from 2017 admission it was slowing down those devices

Close up of man using iPhone 6 Plus smart phone
Iain Masterton / Alamy Stock Photo

Owners of older iPhones could get $25 each from Apple after the company agreed late last week to pay up to $500 million to settle claims over intentionally slowing down older phones to preserve older batteries.

Apple and lawyers representing iPhone consumers agreed to a deal stemming from Apple's 2017 admission that it was slowing down phone performance in older models to avoid unexpected shutdowns related to battery wear.

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That admission led to Apple offering discounted battery replacements at $29, but many people claimed they already had spent hundreds of dollars to buy new phones because Apple hadn't revealed the cause of the problem. If they had known they could just buy new batteries, they might not have bought new phones, some consumers in the case said.

Apple admits no guilt

Apple did not admit wrongdoing. As part of the settlement, the company agreed to pay $310 million to $500 million, including about $93 million to lawyers representing consumers.

Nearly 4 in 5 adults 50 and older use smartphones, including 83 percent of 50- to 64-year-olds, according to AARP research released in January. And nearly 3 in 10 of those 50 and older owned iPhones, according to an MSW-ARS Research report released in March 2018.

Americans in general are holding on to their iPhones longer than ever, waiting an average of 2.92 years to upgrade, according to third-quarter 2018 data from HYLA Mobile, a mobile-device trade-in company. That's up almost six months from two years previous.

$25 is maximum amount

iPhone users named in the class-action lawsuit will get up to $3,500 each.

The rest of the settlement money will be distributed to owners of iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6S, 6S Plus, 7, 7 Plus or SE models bought before Dec. 21, 2017, who meet eligibility requirements related to the operating system they had running. The iPhone 6 first came out in September 2014; the SE, the most recent model covered in the settlement, was first released in March 2016.

Consumers must file claims to get the award, but Apple has not yet shared how to do so. If too many people file, the $25 amount could shrink.

The settlement still needs approval from a federal judge in San Jose, California. A hearing will be held April 3.