Apple offers $20M in 7-year-old iPhone 4S lawsuit. But is the end really near?

Apple has offered $20 million to settle a class action regarding the iPhone 4S and its compatibility with the iOS 9 operating system. But there are catches.

The iPhone 4S was introduced in mid-October 2011. Apple discontinued it three years later in 2014.

A year after that, a class-action suit was filed, claiming that a new operating-system update had slowed the 4S so that it was “no longer functional for normal use.”

The operating system caused “performance problems in all aspects of the iPhone’s functionality,” resulting in crashes when using the phone or email. The suit alleged Apple used “deceptive trade practices and false advertising.”

The suit went on to say that plaintiffs were left with the choice of using “a slow and buggy device that disrupts everyday life or spend hundreds of dollars to buy a new phone. Apple explicitly represented to the public that iOS 9 is compatible with and supports the iPhone 4S. And Apple failed to warn iPhone 4S owners that the update may or will significantly interfere with the device’s performance.”

(To give an idea of how old the iPhone 4S is, the current operating system for an iPhone is iOS 15. The complaint was about iOS 9.)

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The class action asked for up to $15 million in damages. Nearly seven years later — and 539,000 pages of documents and another 770 pages from expert witnesses — there is good news for the class action members. Sort of.

Apple has offered a $20 million settlement — a third more than the plaintiffs originally sought.

It sounds like a lot, but by the time court costs, attorneys’ fees and other expenses are paid, it appears the payout for an eligible iPhone 4S will be about $15.

The settlement isn’t final until it has been approved by a federal judge. After that happens, a web site will be established so iPhone 4S owners can file a claim. To do that, the iPhone 4S serial number will need to be submitted.

And then there is another hoop through which to jump: The phone’s owner must have lived in either New York or New Jersey at the time the phone was updated to iOS 9. All others need not apply.

Finally, there is one other unanswered question: When will the rebate check arrive?

I have been following another class-action suit involving alleged price fixing for lithium-ion batteries. The members of that class action were told in 2017 that the final payout would probably be coming in March 2018.That date was moved back to 2020. When I checked the status a day or two ago, some class-action members had appealed the settlement.

Lonnie Brown

Lonnie Brown

The settlement website noted: “As a result [of the appeal], we are unable to distribute the settlement funds until these appeals are resolved. While our goal is to resolve these as soon as possible, we are unable to provide an exact date at this time.”

If you’re a member of the iPhone class action, there’s a lot of time to look for a serial number on a phone that was discontinued eight years ago.

Lonnie Brown can be reached at [email protected]

This article originally appeared on The Ledger: Gadget Daddy: Is the end really near for 7-year-old iPhone 4S lawsuit?