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Apple to pay up to $500M to settle lawsuit over iPhone slowdown controversy

Slowing down older iPhones helped Apple counteract issues with aging lithium-ion batteries but caused a lot of problems when consumers found out.

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 Apple has faced criticism for a lack of transparency around its battery policies. 

Angela Lang/CNET

Apple has agreed to pay up to $500 million to settle a class action lawsuit that accused the tech giant of slowing down older iPhones to encourage people to buy the latest model. Apple faced a wave of criticism -- and lawsuits -- after acknowledging in 2017 that its iOS software slowed down the performance of some older iPhones

At the time, Apple apologized for its lack of transparency, updated its software and offered battery replacements. The company has maintained that the practice was designed to protect iPhones from automatically shutting down during certain tasks if the battery was old, the device was very cold or it was operating at low power. Critics, by contrast, accused Apple of quietly driving people to upgrade their phones to fill the company's coffers.

The proposed settlement, released Friday, calls for Apple to pay consumers $25 per iPhone, which may be adjusted depending on how many devices are eligible, with a minimum total payout of $310 million. It covers current and former iPhone owners in the US who had an iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6S, 6S Plus or SE running iOS 12.2.1 or later. It also covers the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus running iOS 11.2 or later before Dec. 21, 2017. 

"The settlement provides substantial relief to Apple consumers and, going forward, will help ensure that customers are fully informed when asked to update their products," said Joseph Cotchett, co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs, in an emailed statement Monday.

Apple denied any wrongdoing in the case. The company didn't respond to a request for comment Monday. 

The proposed settlement must be approved by Judge Edward Davila in US District Court for the Northern District of California. 

A copy of the proposed settlement is below:  

Originally published March 2, 8:53 a.m. PT.
Update, 12 p.m. PT: Adds comment from attorney for plaintiffs.