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Apple faces fresh lawsuits in Europe for iPhone slowdowns asking for over Rs 1,600 crore compensation

Apple is facing new legal action in some parts of Europe for slowing down the iPhone.

Apple faced one of the biggest lawsuits in its history back in 2017 when it admitted that it slows down the iPhone to prevent old batteries from deteriorating. It had to cough a huge sum of $113 million as compensation to impact users. That 'batterygate' controversy has reemerged in some parts of Europe. Apple is facing new lawsuits in Europe over its move to slow down older iPhone models, seeking compensation of EUR 60 (roughly Rs 5,400) for each affected iPhone user.

In a statement, Euroconsumers, the advocacy group that has filed multiple lawsuits against Apple over its practice to make older iPhone work slower than they would be expected to in order to provide more life to the battery inside. The "batterygate" controversy has landed Apple in hot soup again, this time spawning customers of up to 2 million iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6S, and iPhone 6S Plus from Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Belgium. The advocacy group has said that it wants Apple to compensate its European users as much as it did the iPhone users in the US.

According to Euroconsumers, the talks held out of court with Apple did not result favourably, leading the group to move the court against the Tim Cook-led company. The advocacy group is seeking for EUR 60 compensation on an average for each user. Estimating the total compensation that Apple might end up paying results about EUR 180 million, which translates to $218 million and Rs 1,614 crore. This is significantly higher than what Apple had to pay in the US to settle the lawsuits.

Els Bruggeman, head of policy and enforcement at Euroconsumers, told CNN Business that consumers are getting increasingly "upset" with their iPhone models slowing down because of Apple's unfortunate move. "...the iPhone 6 models being a very concrete example of that."

Apple is yet to respond to these lawsuits that is freshly facing in at least four countries in Europe. The old iPhone models, including iPhone 6, iPhone 6S, are available globally and the slowdown process impacted all of them. The company had to compensate its customers in the US due to several class-action lawsuits but there were no lawsuits filed in other parts of the world. However, Apple voluntarily initiated a battery replacement programme in all its markets for people who were affected by the slowdown. Consumers in Europe are now asking for compensation over and above that.

Several lawsuits, previous and the fresh ones, have pointed that the iPhone slowdowns have been deliberately done by Apple to push the sales of new iPhone models. However, Apple has repeatedly denied this allegation in all the lawsuits, agreeing to pay for damages to customers. "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," Apple has said in response to the new lawsuits.

While Euroconsumers will file the lawsuits via associated organisations in Belgium and Spain on Wednesday, Italy and Portugal will see filings in the coming weeks. The total amount will be mentioned in these lawsuits. The courts might summon Apple for these lawsuits to present its sides, but otherwise, Apple will have to pay up consumers. This is strongly favoured by the same move the US had practised when Apple was asked to pay over $110 million for the same controversy of iPhone slowdowns.

This comes as a major jolt to Apple after Italy fined the company for misleading advertisements. Italy's antitrust body fined Apple EUR 10 million, which is roughly $12 million and Rs 90 crore, for hiding certain aspects from customers about the water resistance capability of the iPhone. The non-clarity of water resistance capability on the iPhone led customers to believe their devices can withstand any level of water. But these claims made by Apple hold true in some controlled environments only, which customers were not informed about. Apple also voids the warranty on damage caused by liquid, which is another aspect Italy's regulator body drew to fine Apple.