Apple is facing a lawsuit that could see British iPhone owners receive compensation over allegedly defective batteries.
The case, brought by consumer champion Justin Gutmann, was given the go-ahead by a UK court on Wednesday.
Mr Gutmann claims the tech giant deceived up to 25 million customers by “throttling” their devices without their knowledge.
It did so via software updates that diminished the performance of older handsets over time, the lawsuit claims.
The models allegedly affected include the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6S, 6S Plus, SE, 7, and 7 Plus.
Mr Gutmann has accused Apple of exploiting its market dominance in the UK by effectively forcing people to pay for replacement batteries or entirely new phones.
Should the case – which Apple has described as “baseless” – be successful, all owners would be entitled to compensation for each impacted model they owned.
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The US firm has strongly denied any batteries in its handsets were defective, apart from a few iPhone 6S models.
In those instances, it offered free battery replacements.
“We have never – and would never – do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades,” it said in a statement.
“Our goal has always been to create products that our customers love, and making iPhones last as long as possible is an important part of that.”
Apple previously admitted slowing down the performance of older iPhones with flagging batteries, but said it was necessary to protect their components.
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‘Major step to consumer justice’
Apple tried to get Mr Gutman’s lawsuit thrown out, but the Competition Appeal Tribunal has now ruled it can go ahead, although it said the case lacked some “clarity and specificity”.
It has asked Mr Gutmann’s legal team to resolve the issues before any trial, and he may also be required to alter his funding arrangements.
The claimant described the court’s ruling as “a major step towards consumer justice”.
“This paves the way for millions of consumers to receive the compensation they deserve,” he added.
Mr Gutman is seeking damages of up to £1.6bn, with the midpoint range being £853m.
Apple previously paid $113m (£93m) to settle a similar case in Arizona, and $500m (£413m) to settle another in California.