Apple Sued Over “Touch Disease” Flaw In iPhone 6 Devices

It was really only a matter of time: owners of iPhone 6 and 6 Plus devices affected by the so-called “touch disease” have sued Apple over a supposed flaw that leads touchscreens to become unresponsive, essentially rendering the devices useless.

The proposed class-action lawsuit [PDF], filed Saturday in U.S. District Court for Northern California, accuses Apple of fraud and violating California consumer protection laws, claiming the tech giant concealed the defect and hasn’t done anything to address the problem.

According to the lawsuit, the issue, which surfaces after a flickering gray bar appears atop the touchscreen, is the result of Apple’s decision not to use a metal “shield” to protect chips that control the touchscreen.

These two chips translate your finger pressure into information the phone can use, iFixit reported about the flaw last week. When the chips go bad, they don’t register even the most forceful touch.

The lawsuit claims that Apple previously used a metal shield to protect the chips in earlier iPhone models, but chose not to with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

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The lack of protection makes the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus “substantially less durable to foreseeable and reasonable use by consumers and ultimately causes the touchscreen defect.”

Had owners known about the defect or Apple addressed the issue previously, the plaintiffs say these people might not have made the purchase or would have paid substantially less for the devices.

Fixing the issue isn’t easy for customers either, the suit — filed on behalf of two Pennsylvania and Delaware residents — alleges.

For one thing, according to the complaint, Apple has reportedly refused to fix the problem when customers bring in affected phones.

Both claimed to have taken their affected phones to an Apple store or contacted Apple Care for repairs related to “touch disease.”

Each say they were told by Apple that they would need to pay more than $300 for a replacement iPhone.

“Many other iPhone owners have communicated with Apple’s employees and agents to request that Apple remedy and/or address the Touchscreen Defect and/or resultant damage at no expense,” the complaint states. “Apple has failed and/or refused to do so.”

iFixit reports that only third-party repair techs can replace the chips, as Apple repair Geniuses aren’t allowed to make specialized repairs to logic boards.

“As a result of Apple’s unfair, deceptive and/or fraudulent business practices, owners of the iPhones, including Plaintiffs, have suffered an ascertainable loss of money and/or property and/or value,” the case states. “The unfair and deceptive trade practices committed by Apple were conducted in a manner giving rise to substantial aggravating circumstances.”

The suit seeks unspecified damages and an order that requires Apple to repair, recall, and/or replace affected iPhones and to extend the warranties of those devices for a reasonable period of time.

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