iPhone 6 ‘Touch Disease’ Lawsuit: Manufacturing Defect Quickly Gains Enough Attention For Class Action

An iPhone 6 defect labeled “Touch Disease” has sparked enough outrage that a class-action lawsuit against Apple was filed last Saturday.

Touch Disease is a condition prone to Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus where the screen becomes unresponsive to touch. The Inquisitr reported last week that the problem is caused when two chips that control the screen come loose from the logic board. The gap created causes intermittent issues with the display’s ability to detect touch. As the gap continues to widen, the problem progressively worsens until the screen stops responding altogether.

The defect occurs exclusively in iPhone 6 models (except for the 6S series), reported iFixIt. Touch Disease happens when the logic board housing the screen control chips flexes. For example, if one were to carry an iPhone 6 in the back pocket and then sit on it, the screen’s circuitry will experience small amounts of flexing. Over time this breaks the solder holding the chips to the logic board and the phone experiences the symptoms of Touch Disease. According to iFixIt and other phone repair experts, the deficiency is not one that is hard to prevent. The flaw stems from Apple’s failure to reinforce the circuitry with underfill or by any other means.

Some repair shops are seeing as many as 100 cases of Touch Disease per month. The reason third-party repair houses are seeing so much business is that Apple has refused to address the problem. Customers are reporting that when taking the non-functional phones to Apple Stores, they are told that the repair is too expensive if the phone is out of warranty, which is the case with most phones having the problem. Instead, Genius technicians suggest purchasing a new iPhone. iFixIt states that while replacing the entire logic board can be quite expensive, micro soldering new chips onto the old board is much cheaper, which is why independent repair facilities have been getting so much business.

According to the Inquisitr article, repair tech Louis Rossmann predicted that Apple would not take action on the matter until forced. Rossmann points to several instances with past Apple products where the company took no action until being inundated with bad press or class-action lawsuits.

Based on the company’s track record on such issues Rossmann predicted, “Apple is going to get a class-action lawsuit against them [once enough people are angry], and then they will release an extended warranty program.”

It appears that his prediction is coming true. Reuters reports that a class-action lawsuit against the company was filed on Saturday over the iPhone 6 Touch Disease defect.

“Todd Cleary of California, Jun Bai of Delaware and Thomas Davidson of Pennsylvania are the named plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which accuses Apple of fraud and violating California consumer protection laws. They seek unspecified damages.”

The lawsuit has been filed with a federal court in San Jose, California and states, “The iPhones are not fit for the purpose of use as smartphones because of the touchscreen defect.”

Apple has declined to comment, so it is unknown whether the company will fulfill the rest of Rossmann’s prediction. However, considering that 166.4 million units have sold in this fiscal year, the room for growth in this lawsuit is huge. It is highly likely that Apple will settle the dispute with something such as an extended warranty program as Louis suggested.

Depending on the outcome of the case, all iPhone 6 owners may be entitled to compensation. Even users who have not experienced Touch Disease may be able to claim an extended warranty if that is what Apple offers in the settlement. In the past, Apple has handed out extended warranties that were honored for up to five years after a purchase of the faulty product.

Louis Rossmann stated that in 2011, 20,000 Macbook Pro owners filed a class action lawsuit against Apple for a graphics card defect that the company denied existed. The tech giant settled the lawsuit in 2014 by extending the warranty of the 2011 Macbook Pro through the end of 2016.

If a similar settlement to this lawsuit is reached, this could significantly increase the lifespan of recently purchased iPhone 6 and 6 Pluses as it would also cover issues unrelated to Touch Disease. However, it is unlikely that Apple will extend the warranty to five years for the defective iPhones since smartphones have a much shorter lifespan than laptop computers. A three-year extension seems more likely in this case.

All iPhone 6 series users should keep an eye on this lawsuit as it develops. If your iPhone already has Touch Disease, and you cannot wait for a settlement, hang on to the phone. You can always cash in on the settlement and then sell or give it away.

[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]

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