Lawsuit: Apple broke iPhone 3Gs to boost iPhone 4 sales

By on November 4, 2010, 7:46 PM
In a new class-action lawsuit, angry iPhone owner Biana Wofford is accusing Apple of using the iOS 4 upgrade to maliciously cripple the iPhone 3G to boost sales of the iPhone 4, according to Ars Technica. Earlier this year, when Apple released the iPhone 4, it also offered an OS update to customers with older iPhone models.

Filed in the Superior Court of California for San Diego, the lawsuit claims Apple has received thousands of complaints from iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS consumers about the problematic upgrade. Apps reportedly take longer to open, the phone calling interface hangs and crashes more than usual, and users have to frequently turn the device off and on to fix issues.

It's unlikely that Apple is as evil as the plaintiffs claim; the company probably just didn't test iOS 4 on older phones as thoroughly as it should have. Nevertheless, the lawsuit makes a good point: Apple does not allow for those users to download and reinstall earlier versions of iOS. The only way to do so is to jailbreak the iPhone, which of course voids Cupertino's warranty.

Having just one version makes it easier for Apple and developers to target the mobile OS when testing, maintaining, and creating apps. Nevertheless, it's an annoyance for consumers as it limits their options. If you don't like the new version, whether that's because you find it buggy, slow, incompatible with your apps, or you just plain don't like it, you should be able to roll back.

Technology-based class-action lawsuits rarely succeed so this one likely won't make it very far. That being said, it may force Apple to make downgrades as easy as upgrades, so it might not be a complete waste.





User Comments: 52

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Guest said:

Alot of manufacturers would be guilty of making goods that only last 5 years so people have to go out and buy another one. Computers are guilty of it to we have to buy a new computer every 2 years to keep up with the latest games and technology. Only problem is how do you prove thats what there trying to do there not gona tell you and give you the information to sue them. btw first post

Guest said:

their first mistake was buying an apple product

Mydnight said:

Companies that purposely design their products to be obsolete in order to generate sales is wrong yes, but people choosing various upgrades (peripherals, RAM, video/sound cards, etc) are doing so because they want to. I see a lot of computers that could be considered obsolete, but people still happily use them because they do what the user wants them to do.

crazyboy88 said:

Guest said:

their first mistake was buying an apple product

thumbs up

vangrat said:

Guest said:

Alot of manufacturers would be guilty of making goods that only last 5 years so people have to go out and buy another one. Computers are guilty of it to we have to buy a new computer every 2 years to keep up with the latest games and technology. Only problem is how do you prove thats what there trying to do there not gona tell you and give you the information to sue them. btw first post

I think you have this a bit confused.

One is not forced into upgrading their system every two to five years. One makes the choice to upgrade in this timeline. What the iOS 4 upgrade debacle is all about, is the forcing of users into version 4 without the ability to move back to a version that they had previously. If one upgrades their computer to Vista or 7 from XP, they still have the option to downgrade back to XP if they did not like.

posermobile89 said:

Even if you jailbreak your device after updating, you still can not downgrade. You would have either had to have your device jailbroken prior to the update, and let cydia "make your life easier" by managing your SHSH blobs for you, or manually updated your SHSH blobs on cydia and/or stored them locally by using a program such as tinyumbrella. Once apple rolls out an update, if you don't have your SHSH blobs saved, there is no way to downgrade

ViNCiLiCiouS said:

To quote TechSpot, it is unlikely that Apple is evil in this case. But it would be really interesting if it were true.

ViNCiLiCiouS said:

To quote TechSpot, it is unlikely that Apple is evil in this case. But it would be really interesting if it were true.

tonylukac said:

Apple isn't good at updates like microsoft is. This is similar to my macbook pro which I bought and took back about a year ago (no restocking fee at Fry's). The snow leopard update produced about 10 issues like this. Oh well, back to my old reliable Toshiba!

DRoc28 said:

crazyboy88 said:

Guest said:

their first mistake was buying an apple product

thumbs up :)

bump for justice...lol!

aj_the_kidd said:

Wow Apple has really failed in testing lately, first the antenna & proximity issues with the iPhone, the iPad issues (cant remember what they were) and now we have a lawsuit about iOS4 on the 3G and 3GS phones.

Wagan8r Wagan8r said:

Yep, that's the same story for me. I got a 3G about a year before the iPhone 4 came out, and since I "upgraded", I've had nothing but issues. It's slow and buggy has heck! I hope this will at the least force them to let us roll back versions.

aj_the_kidd said:

Unless this gets the publicity that the Antenna issue got, your probably better of upgrading to the iPhone 4 or finding an alternative.

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

You can Shift + Click on the Restore button to manually point to an OS install-file on your HDD..you can't do this and point to an older OS version..?

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

The issue here is not whether or not the performance of the phone is better or worse than it was before, the issue here is that owners of the phone have no legitimate way to roll the phone back to the way it was before. And since you can do it when the phone is jailbroken, then clearly its just a choice by Apple, not the limitation of any software. I'm not sure what their justification for not allowing people to roll back the OS without jailbreaking it, but the assumption that they do so to force people to buy a new phone is not that far fetched.

Maybe its just the naivete of the iPhone buyers who don't understand that once you go Apple you never go back. You're just forced into a two year upgrade cycle whether you want it or not.

bam13 said:

As an iPhone 3G and 3GS owner I must say that it really feels like at least a bit of a truth...but on the other hand, apple provides OS updates for phones that are few years old for free...anyway, the iOS 4.0 made the iphone 3G almost unusable, but I'd say it's because of the processor and ram, 3GS is much stronger and has no problem with speed at all, plus the user has always the choice whether to update the iOS or not

Recipe7 Recipe7 said:

Biana Wofford... I want to leave a bag of poop on your doorstep.

Who wants to make a bet that she will 'accidentally' spill coffee on her lap in the near future?

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I have an iPhone 3GS and it has no problems at all on the new 4.1 iOS, my friend on the other hand who only has a 3G bugs out most the time an app has been started for over 5 minutes, battery is completely shot and its soo laggy round the menu's its almost impossible to browse the we for example.

I think there is some truth here when it comes to the 3G model at least and also to note, we both got our iPhones the same month (He just couldn't afford the 3GS at the time, man he wishes he had done it now!).

thebluemeaner said:

Guest said:

Alot of manufacturers would be guilty of making goods that only last 5 years so people have to go out and buy another one. Computers are guilty of it to we have to buy a new computer every 2 years to keep up with the latest games and technology. Only problem is how do you prove thats what there trying to do there not gona tell you and give you the information to sue them. btw first post

You don't have to go out and buy a new computer, the thing is you see new computers that run faster and you feel the "need" to go buy one. An old pentium 4 computer with lynux is more than capable of satisfying the needs of an average computer user (word processing, spreadsheets, instant messaging , music, social networking) I don't see why one is actually forced to go upgrade...

Leeky Leeky said:

I have an iPhone 3GS and it has no problems at all on the new 4.1 iOS

My 3GS shipped with the new i4.0 OS and worked absolutely fine. It's now updated to i4.1 OS and still worked fine. Its sat in its box in a cupboard now mind.

Granted I had major signal issues with it, but that was the problem of Orange signal generally in my area. I seem to live in a 1 mile patch where there is no Orange signal for some reason. All my friends with Orange mobile have the same problem when they come around, so it wasn't the phone.

I went back to T-mobile and got a HTC Desire on a brilliant deal and all has been fine with signal since.

urluckee said:

after the lawsuit, she'll upgrade. just watch.

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Leeky said:

I have an iPhone 3GS and it has no problems at all on the new 4.1 iOS

My 3GS shipped with the new i4.0 OS and worked absolutely fine. It's now updated to i4.1 OS and still worked fine. Its sat in its box in a cupboard now mind.

Granted I had major signal issues with it, but that was the problem of Orange signal generally in my area. I seem to live in a 1 mile patch where there is no Orange signal for some reason. All my friends with Orange mobile have the same problem when they come around, so it wasn't the phone.

I went back to T-mobile and got a HTC Desire on a brilliant deal and all has been fine with signal since.

You do realise you can sign up any phone on Orange to use T-Mobile signal? if you go into the Orange account app at the bottom you can sign up and as long as your network preference is set to "auto" it will pickup T-Mobile and Orange signal has helped me a bit when traveling a long way. And whats great is you don't pay anything! its completely free and even when using T-Mobile signal your price plan will always remain the same. Sometimes Orange comes through for me

klpowell said:

And with this apple will never again backport new features to the older phones. Thanks to this lawsuit we will all have to by new phones to get the new features... Thanks!

jwdR1 said:

After the lawsuit, she'll be able to afford to.

flocka said:

APPLE DOES NO WRONG, HANG THIS LADY

Razerblade said:

Sounds like apple to me. although I rekon Apple will not bother upgrading older phones. Go Android, its all open source!!!!

whiteandnerdy said:

i dont really bother with updating my iPhone with the new OS because it want allow it to multitask which is really my only gripe with the 3G.

Leeky Leeky said:

You do realise you can sign up any phone on Orange to use T-Mobile signal? if you go into the Orange account app at the bottom you can sign up and as long as your network preference is set to "auto" it will pickup T-Mobile and Orange signal has helped me a bit when traveling a long way. And whats great is you don't pay anything! its completely free and even when using T-Mobile signal your price plan will always remain the same. Sometimes Orange comes through for me

You couldn't a few months ago (I've had the iPhone since about July I think)... Something I wish I knew in advance, before spending over £300 buying out my contract! lol.

T-mobile also offer that the other way around for there customers. When I enquired with Orange at the time I was told there was nothing that could be done about it, so chose to terminate.

compu4 said:

I agree completely. Apple is a highly monopolistic company that has a strong desire to control its customers. I would not doubt these accusations at all.

MrAnderson said:

This is what happens when you add a hardware refresh whistle many last gen products are in play and keep one version of the OS going. Apple should make the OS, hardware version aware, or they simply branch the code-base. Adding extra hardware intensive features on old hardware is not a good idea. Fixing bugs, optimizations, visual enhancements, and productivity improvements should be the only updates for older hardware.

As a 3GS user my phone does just about all I want it to do. When I bough it I knew there were going to be limitations to balance functionality with battery life. I don't care for multitasking knowing it will just use up my already old battery faster. It impacts performance and was not in the original design so leave it out (or let me shut it off or revert to the older behavior). Although the only enhancement I want is the icon grouping, I have avoided the upgrade because I know it is going to make things worst.

People please... let's not get into the iOS vs Android trap. I have plenty of friends with the Android phones and even Leo LaPorte, well know in the tech journalism industry, has commented about similar issues with Android devices. Android phones suffer from balancing battery life with managing multiple applications and if you start installing all sorts of software on them, they have been known to hang and need restarting too. Their main advantage is that users are free to refresh the phone.

Moving forward, Apple might want to rethink how it distributes updates to the popular mobile OS, and spend a little more time and money so that users get the quality and expericence for which Apple is known.

taea00 said:

Wow Apple is going to fight this tooth and nail I'm sure. How dare someone try to order APPLE around! I'm hoping this goes through so Apple users get a bit more freedom with the devices they PAID for.

nismo91 said:

I think you have this a bit confused.

One is not forced into upgrading their system every two to five years. One makes the choice to upgrade in this timeline. What the iOS 4 upgrade debacle is all about, is the forcing of users into version 4 without the ability to move back to a version that they had previously. If one upgrades their computer to Vista or 7 from XP, they still have the option to downgrade back to XP if they did not like.

Agreed with this one. I recently helped my brother, who is of course not tech-savvy, to 'update' his stock 2.2 iPhone 3G to get latest OS4 due to the fact that newer apps needs at least OS 3.1.3. Been never upgrading iPod / iPhone stuff before i'm actually stumped that there is no way going back to 3.xx. Of course, with a little googling it's actually possible but for non-tech-savvy I guess they will have hard time doing so.

To make it worse, the newer iTunes (remember OS4 needs iTunes 9.2 or later) often causes BSOD to my freshly installed Win7 (new HDD). No BSOD if I uninstalled it, or did not connect the iPhone to it.

Yup the reason he demand it to go back to 3.xx was because the OS4.0 is very slow in 3G. I know it's not slow when the thing is empty, but eventually after a little number of apps are added, thing gets very slow, even with the turn off spotlight hack. Not sure about 4.1 because I am reluctant to even try doing it again.

btw yes the shift & click things works, but when you downgrade to 3.1.3 it will crash, the only way would be put the damn thing in DFU and use a software to complete the downgrading process.

I agree completely. Apple is a highly monopolistic company that has a strong desire to control its customers. I would not doubt these accusations at all.

I second this. The reason I don't like apple stuff is because they're always using proprietary stuff. you must follow this otherwise you can't use the product properly and etc. although i like them for being popular, that way accessories are abundant, thus they are easy to find and also can be found from very cheap to expensive. since i don't like to be 'guided' in their direction, i prefer other OS, at least for now.

n00bzZy said:

Guest said:

their first mistake was buying an apple product

Indeed. Hopefully Apple loses this one.

lawfer, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Guest said:

their first mistake was buying an apple product

This.

omega00 said:

I don't believe Apple broke iPhone 3GS intentionally. However, in terms of business--maximizing profits for shareholders and increasing sales and revenue--Apple was able to do just those things, albeit at the expense and frustration of 3GS phone users. kinda reminds me of Apple introducting newer versions of iPods every 6-12 months. Good business model.

fluxcapacitor said:

I have a 3GS and when I first upgraded to 4.0 it was horribly slow and buggy. The following update after that, 4.01 or whatever it was seems have fixed all those issues so unless that remedial effect is specific to the 3GS and not 3G as well, this lawsuit is a bunch of crap.

coolhandz84 said:

Good luck winning the case against Apple. I wouldn't be surprised if they did it on purpose.

SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

The 3GS doesn't have problems with iOS4, many of you are saying that and you are mistaken. It was the 3G that it has issues on. The 3G is a lot weaker in processing capabilities.

So the real problem here is that iOS4 made the 3G nearly unusable in some cases, and then a later update somewhat fixed it. But the 3G still sucks with iOS4. I bet if Apple had to do it again they'd just forbid it on a 3G. I really doubt Apple intentionally said "we'll do this cause it will suck so bad on the 3G they'll have to buy an iPhone 4!" why would you intentionally let your company do this when you know it will lead to a lot of bad press?

Just because something is physically capable of running an OS doesn't mean it should be done. You shouldn't put Windows 7 on a 450Mhz P2, but you could. You shouldn't run OS X 10.5 on a 533Mhz G4, but you can.

Like others have said, Apple should have let you roll back your OS, even if it requires wiping it (actually, can that be done?). So if this suit proceeds I think 1 of 2 things could to happen: Apple will let you roll back your OS update (unlikely), or you will not be able to get new OS features without buying a new phone.

Puiu Puiu said:

Of course they knew abut the bus, they don't have monkeys working there, but it's all about profit so it's natural that they will do underhanded things just to make that extra $ or 2

Nirkon said:

I actually think that this one has a valid point, Apple will have to allow people to

download the last version, or fix iOS4 for older phones...

biotank said:

I totally agrees with this article, apple doesn't want to help you once they sold you the product, my 3gs keep shutting down after 5 mins of usage right after the warranty expired. I talked to apple store, and rogers (my service provider) they told me the warranty is expired, there is nothing they could do, and to fix the issue they are asking for $269 dollars. I told them it's the battery that causing the issue, but apple's diagnose software says differently, this is outrage price to just replace the battery, and they try to convince me 269 is worth it, cause I am getting a brand new case, battery and touch screen.

Apple has the worst customer service ever, which cell phone brand charge you 269 for a battery replacement!!! and yet they tell you it's a GOOD DEAL!!!

slh28 slh28, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I don't know why Apple don't let people downgrade to an earlier version. People who want to jailbreak will jailbreak anyway.

biotank said:

they just want to make it hard for ppl to jail break ~~

Guest said:

Why are you so naive? Are you saying Apple is guilty?

Just because a lawsuit is entered does not mean it will succeed.

slh28 slh28, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Guest said:

Why are you so naive? Are you saying Apple is guilty?

Just because a lawsuit is entered does not mean it will succeed.

In fact taking on Apple's lawyers is pretty much a guaranteed fail.

fpsgamerJR62 said:

Installing the latest software on hardware that's 2 or 3 generations behind is almost always a sure way to get in trouble. That has been my experience on the PC. Apple could have at least provided a way for users with earlier models to roll back to an earlier OS version.

AnonymousSurfer AnonymousSurfer said:

They had to break the iPhone 3 because the iPhone 4 sucks so bad...

dlen said:

I think they shouldn't provide the ability to upgrade if they didn't tested the iOS on old devices well. If they have provided that ability and there is no possibility to roll-back to previous version they should replace the old Apple 3G with new devices that are working correctly. All that shall be done as a part of warranty. Other way is to block possibility to upgrade the SW and to provide ability to downgrade the SW to the users that did the upgrade.

ruzveh said:

i have a solution here. Why go Apple way? Look for Android. Simple

xcelofjkl said:

"Biana Wofford gets complimentary iPhone4, drops charges."

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