iPhone 3G owner sues Apple over dropped calls, slow speeds

Alabama woman takes iPhone complaints to next level, demands class-action status.

An Alabama woman filed a lawsuit yesterday against Apple claiming that the company's iPhone 3G drops calls, has trouble connecting to AT&T's network and is slower than advertised.

The suit also seeks class-action status, according to papers filed with a federal court.

Dubbing the phone as "Defective iPhone 3G" throughout her lawsuit, Birmingham resident Jessica Smith charged Apple with breach of express and implied warranty, and failing that, unjust enrichment.

Apple's advertising blitz was misleading, the lawsuit claims. "Defendant intended for customers to believe its statements and representations about the Defective iPhone 3Gs, and to trust that the device was 'twice as fast at half the price,'" the lawsuit said.

Apple's marketing continues to use that phrasing. On the iPhone section of Apple's Web site, the headline reads "Twice as fast. Half the price."

Smith's specific charges would be familiar reading to any user who has skimmed the complaints posted on Apple's support forums. "Immediately after purchase, Plaintiff soon noticed that her internet connection, receipt and sending of e-mail, text messages and other data transfers were slower than expected and advertised," the lawsuit says.

"The Defective iPhone 3G appeared to connect to the 3G standard and protocol less than 25% of the time. Additionally, Plaintiff experienced an inordinate amount of dropped calls," the lawsuit continues.

Apple customers started complaining about 3G network problems within days of the iPhone's July 11 debut. Since then, several thousand messages have been posted to Apple's support forum, detailing difficulties making calls from areas supposedly covered by a 3G network and griping about weak signals, dropped calls and slower-than-promised data download speeds.

On Monday, Apple issued an iPhone software update that a company spokeswoman said today "improves communication with 3G networks." Users, however, continued to say otherwise on Apple's support forum, reporting that the iPhone 2.0.2 update did nothing to solve their 3G reception and connection problems.

In the count charging breach of express warranty, Smith's lawsuit again touched on Apple's promises. "Defendant expressly warranted that the Defective iPhone 3G would be 'twice as fast' and would otherwise perform adequately on the 3G standard or protocol," it said.

"The Defective iPhone 3Gs do not conform to these express representations because they fail to connect and/or adequately maintain a connection to the 3G standard and/or protocol."

The lawsuit asked that a federal judge grant the case class-action status, claiming that "the proposed Class contains thousands and perhaps tens of thousands of members." Smith also asked the court to force Apple to repair or replace the iPhone 3G, and award her -- and if the case is given class-action status, other iPhone owners -- an unspecified amount of money in damages.

Apple did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

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Gregg Keizer

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
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