Lawsuit Alleges Excessive iOS 9 Cellular Data Usage

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

Follow on: Google +

A new iOS 9 feature has led to unexpectedly high cellular data bills, the lawsuit alleges

Apple has been targeted with a class-action lawsuit alleging the company didn’t sufficiently warn users of the risks of higher cellular data usage caused by a iOS 9 feature called Wi-Fi Assist.

William and Suzanne Phillips, a Florida couple, filed the lawsuit in San Jose’s US District Court on Friday, alleging deceptive business practices, false advertising and misrepresentation and demanding compensation for those affected by the issue. The case stipulates $5m (£3m) in damages, the minimum threshold for filing such a suit in US federal court.

Surprise cellular data usage

Wi-Fi Assist, turned on by default in iOS 9, automatically switches to cellular data if the user is on a poor Wi-Fi connection. Users complained of being hit by unexpectedly high cellular bills due to the feature, and on 2 October Apple published a technical support document explaining that users “might use more cellular data” as a result of the feature and detailing how to switch it off.

The lawsuit alleges that Apple didn’t sufficiently inform customers before introducing the default iOS feature, and that its statement, published only after a “flood of articles” on unintended cellular data use had appeared, still “downplays the possible data overcharges a user could incur” from the feature.

‘Significant’ charges

“Reasonable and average consumers use their iPhones for streaming of music, videos, and running various applications – all of which can use significant data,” the lawsuit states. “Defendant’s corrective statement does not disclose any basis for its conclusion that an average consumer would not see much increase in cellular usage.”

The lawsuit states that the plaintiffs both incurred data overuse charges after upgrading to iOS. The overall amount in question exceeds $5m, according to the lawsuit.

Apple declined to comment.

The company introduced iOS 9 on September 16, and said the software was already running on nearly one-fifth of all iPhone and iPad devices 48 hours after its launch.

How well do you know Apple? Take our quiz.