May 6, 2019 – Apple Hit with Another Class Action Over Alleged iPhone 7 “Audio IC Defect”
A proposed class action has been filed in the Northern District of California over the alleged audio integrated circuit—audio IC—defect in certain iPhone 7 and 7 Plus smartphones. Like the one detailed on this page, the lawsuit claims the audio IC problem can cause poor sound quality or the complete failure of the sound system of an affected iPhone.
The lawsuit says that despite Apple advertising that the “iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus dramatically improve every aspect of the iPhone experience,” the phones’ external casing is “not sturdy, strong, durable, or drastically improved” enough to protect internal components against ordinary wear.
A proposed class action lawsuit has been filed against Apple on behalf of iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus users who have experienced an apparent defect with the devices’ audio integrated circuit (IC)—dubbed by consumers as the “Loop Disease.”
The 28-page case out of Illinois claims that although Apple advertised the iPhone 7 and 7s as a dramatic improvement on “every aspect of the iPhone experience,” the devices suffer from a critical design and manufacturing flaw, which the suit calls the Audio IC Defect, that can cause the complete failure of a phone’s sound system. The apparent defect, the plaintiffs say, can affect the time it takes for an iPhone to power on, as well as completely prevent a user from creating voice memos or making regular telephone calls. Phones stricken with the defect can also become unresponsive, the case adds.
The root of the alleged defect, according to the suit, lies in a problem with both the external casing of affected iPhones and the location of the audio IC chip on a device’s logic board (pictured below). Per the complaint, the materials used for the iPhone’s external casing are “insufficient and inadequate” to protect the device’s internal parts from the effects of reasonable and foreseeable wear by users.
An iPhone 7’s IC chip, which is responsible for all audio-related functions, is vulnerable due to the apparent shortcomings of the device’s external casing, the lawsuit says. More specifically, the suit explains, an iPhone 7’s audio IC chip—a “delicate circuit,” the case stresses—can, in the course of reasonable and anticipated use, lose its electrical continuity with the logic board, which ultimately results in the manifestation of the defect. Once the solder that adheres the audio IC chip to the logic board has failed, the chip cannot operate properly, the suit says, leading to potentially critical audio issues.
The case asserts that the cause of the iPhone 7 audio IC chip flaw is strikingly similar to that found in iPhone 6 devices stricken with the “Touch Disease” defect. To that end, the suit argues, Apple should have been on guard against similar problems in subsequent models:
“The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus suffered from a similar issue known as the 'Touch Disease.' This touchscreen defect was associated with a similar flexion-based issue present in the housing of that series of iPhones which affected the touch IC chips.
Apple’s experience with iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus should have raised alarm within the company that such flexion-based defects in their products are responsible for serious hardware malfunctions including the audio issues present in the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.”
For its part, Apple, the case claims, has long been aware of the supposed defect yet has routinely refused to repair affected iPhones without charge when the Audio IC Defect has cropped up. The case states that Apple, to date, has not publicly released any explanation of the Audio IC defect, yet “acknowledged that an audio defect was present in the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus models via an internal document” distributed to authorized service providers.