Apple just got another slew of lawsuits heading its way as iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus owners have discovered that a design defect makes the phones' touch screens unresponsive and ultimately unusable.
A large number of iPhones are reported to die out because of the design flaw, and the plaintiffs underline that the company refuses to take responsibility for it. Despite being only three at the moment, the plaintiffs - Thomas Davidson of Pennsylvania, Jun Bai of Delaware and Todd Cleary of California - aim to gain traction in their suit so it gets to class-action status.
The issue sprouts from something called "Touch Disease," a problem encountered by a minimum of several thousand users in their iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. What happens is that the screen becomes unresponsive, with a gray bar showing up at the top of the screen.
Even if the visual glitch can be removed by toying around with the phone, the problem invariably leads to a dying out touch screen.
Last week, iFixit looked into the reports and discovered that the technical issue is based on a design flaw that has nothing to do with the screen of the smartphones.
Basically, it all comes down to that bendy nature of the devices that users complained about when the iPhone 6 series came out. It may be true that "Bendgate" waned out rather rapidly in its time, but the notorious lack of rigidity causes a critical touch screen control chip to break away from the logic board. This reasults in an unresponsive screen, aka Touch Disease.
The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, alleges that the OEM has been aware of the defect for quite some time but still denied customers a fix for it. Some proof of Apple acknowledging the problem exists, as the company packed extra rigidity in its 5s and 5c smartphones to keep them away from this type of issue. What is more, the 6s and 6s Plus got stiffened to reduce the chance of bending, showing that the company got word of the vulnerability.
"The iPhones are not fit for the purpose of use as smartphones because of the touch screen defect," reads the complaint.
Despite Apple's smartphone sales sitting at the lowest point in years over Q3 2016, the device still ranks high in popularity. In July, Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, told the media that his company reached the milestone of a billion sold iPhones. The first iPhone rolled out in 2007.
Apple does have a history of taking its time before fixing issues that plague users. A powerful public outcry was necessary for the company to deliver a fix and an apology for Error 53, and that was only a relatively easy-to-fix software problem.
As Touch Disease is a hardware issue, the OEM is unable to resolve it via an iOS update. It can be expected for the Touch Disease fix to cost the company more and to involve some logistic challenges as well. But if the issue is as widespread as repair pros suspect, then it is in Apple's best interest to start offering customers solutions instead of excuses.
Apple has not made any official comment on the subject.