Apple to Begin Paying $35 Million Settlement for iPhone 7 ‘Loop Disease’ Audio Issue Lawsuit

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Last year, Apple agreed to pay out $35 million to settle a US class action lawsuit that alleged that iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus users experienced audio issues due to a defective chip in the handsets. Apple has now begun notifying eligible customers by email that payouts are set to begin soon.

You may be included in this Settlement and be entitled to receive a payment if you owned an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus handset between September 16, 2016, and January 3, 2023. You must have complained to Apple regarding an issue covered by the Settlement and/or paid Apple out of pocket to have your iPhone repaired or replaced due to the audio issues.

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If you did not receive a notice but believe you are eligible to submit a claim, you should email info@smartphoneaudiosettlement.com.

Affected users have until June 3 to select a payment method, object to the settlement, or opt out of the settlement. If you paid Apple for repairs, you could receive up to $349, while other affected users may get up to $125, according to the proposed settlement. The settlement still needs to be approved by a California court on July 18.

Multiple US states sued Apple over the iPhone 7 and found issues in 2019, with the lawsuits alleging that the Cupertino-based company had violated consumer protection laws and had breached warranties.

As is standard for settlements like this, even though Apple has agreed to a settlement, the company has denied any wrongdoing, and there have been no rulings in favor of either Apple or the plaintiffs.

What is ‘Loop Disease?’

In an internal document obtained by MacRumors in May 2018, Apple acknowledged a microphone issue could be affecting some iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus models:

Some customers might report that after they’ve updated to iOS 11.3, the microphone on their iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus doesn’t work and the speaker button is grayed out when they make or receive a call.

Symptoms:
– The speaker button is grayed out during calls
– Other people are unable to hear the customer on cellular or FaceTime calls
– If a customer plays back a video or voice memo that they’ve made after installing iOS 11.3, there is no sound

The alleged defect was dubbed “Loop Disease” online. While Apple acknowledged the issue internally, it never announced an official service program.

The class action lawsuit alleged that “the materials used in the iPhone’s external casing are insufficient and inadequate to protect the internal parts,” which would eventually result in the audio chip losing electrical contact with the logic board. It has not been determined how many iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus units were affected by the issue.

Apple initially announced that service providers could perform free repairs for some customers by requesting a “warranty exception” for affected iPhone 7 devices. However, that program suddenly ended when Apple deleted the document in July 2018. Following the shutdown of the “warranty exceptions,” affected customers had to pay around $300 for out-of-warranty repairs in the US.

If the court approves the settlement, those customers can finally recover at least some of what they paid, and it only took several years to get restitution. (Where’s the /SARCASM tag on this thing?)

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