UPDATE - November 21, 2016 – Over the weekend Apple publicly admitted the existence of the touch disease problem plaguing many iPhone 6 models and blamed the phone-crippling defect on—surprise—user error.
“Apple has determined that some iPhone 6 Plus devices may exhibit displaying flickering or Multi-Touch issues after being dropped multiple times on a hard surface and then incurring further stress on the device,” the company said on its website.
Apple said it will repair affected iPhones—so long as they’re in working condition with intact screens—for a $149 service fee. Users who have already paid to fix their afflicted iPhones, Apple said, will be reimbursed an amount equal to the difference between the price paid for the original repair and the $149 touch screen recoupment.
Scroll down to read our original post on the iPhone touch disease issue.
If you’re able to read this on your iPhone—or do anything on your iPhone, for that matter— consider yourself lucky.
Coinciding with recent news that the tech juggernaut’s profits have sunk for the first time in 15 years—a drop experts pin on declining iPhone sales—comes a lawsuit claiming Apple intentionally concealed a crippling manufacturing defect affecting certain iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus models.
What’s the Deal?
Dubbed by technophiles and industry insiders as “touch disease,” the alleged defect reportedly causes the touchscreens on the aforementioned iPhone models to become unresponsive, a problem that essentially makes the phones useless. This malady, the lawsuit notes, is often immediately preceded by a flickering gray bar that displays across the top of the iPhone’s screen.
The lawsuit cites complaints about the problem on Apple’s own website that date back as far as 2014. And, though only rough estimates have been made, touch disease seems to be extraordinarily widespread and extensive among iPhone users nationwide.
Can You Get a Little More Technical?
The complaint details that the manufacturing flaw stems from an alleged defect in the iPhones’ external casing. Filed in California, the lawsuit claims the materials used to create this casing, which protects the phone’s internal components from users’ regular wear and tear, are “insufficient and inadequate.” The lawsuit says that, despite being advertised as “both beautiful and sturdy,” the iPhone’s external casing cannot stand up to day-to-day bumps and bruises.
The iPhone’s motherboard contains two touchscreen controller chips, called “touch IC chips,” responsible for converting touches on the screen into actions executed by the phone’s operating software. “From the first day of use,” the suit alleges, “the Touchscreen Defect exposed the internal components of the iPhones to increased external stress and physical harm.”
According to the suit, the defect directly affects the durability of the already-delicate touchscreen controller chips, specifically with regard to the failure of the solder to firmly secure the touch IC chips to the phone’s logic board. “Once the solder failure manifests,” the suit explains, “the touch IC chips are unable to recognize the user’s touches on the touchscreen and are also unable to convert those touches into software commands.”
We sat down with attorney Mitchel M. Breit of New York law firm Simmons Hanly Conroy, who was kind enough to answer a few questions we had regarding the suit against Apple.
How Widespread Is the Problem?
“It looks to be quite widespread, Breit said. “There has been contact with owners of iPhones from all 50 states.”
My iPhone had touch disease and I already got a new phone. What can I do?
According to Breit, those who already have or are thinking about replacing their iPhones should “keep a record of everything that has happened.”
If you’ve already replaced your iPhone, it’s paramount to keep as detailed documentation as you can of any transactions that took place, as well as any conversations you may have had with Apple employees.
Breit added: “[Consumers] should keep any receipts for payment they’ve made for a new phone. They should keep a record of everything that was done with regard to replacement, including any costs.”
My iPhone is experiencing the touch disease problem right now. What should I do?
“[iPhone users] should go to Apple and see if they will offer a replacement,” Breit said, reminding again that it is vital to “keep a record of everything.”
What does this lawsuit hope to accomplish for consumers?
“Essentially in these types of cases, what you’re looking for is to get [consumers] some sort of reimbursement for what they overpaid for a product that was defective,” Breit said. “That’s the standard. We’re looking for injunctive and declaratory relief for Apple to repair, recall or replace the phones.”
Do I need to do anything to join this class action lawsuit?
“Consumers don’t have to do anything to join,” Breit explained. “As far as we’re concerned, if our class definition in our complaint is approved and the class is certified, they will be class members. They don’t need to do anything.”