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Friday, July 27, 2007, 04:25 pm PT (07:25 pm ET)

iPhone: class-action battery lawsuit, mass AC adapter failures

A suit against Apple charges the iPhone maker with forcing owners to depend on the company for frequent battery replacements. Also, new reports reveal problems with the cellphone's AC power brick.

Lawsuit grills Apple over built-in iPhone battery

A class-action group is accusing Apple of unfairly steering its customers towards buying frequent and expensive battery replacements from the company to continue using the iPhone, according to official papers discovered by Gizmodo.

Represented by lead plaintiff Jose Trujillo, the Illinois-based suit alleges that the handset's lithium-ion battery will exhaust itself in just 300 charges, which Trujillo claims will last only a year — guaranteeing that customers will need to swap the battery on a yearly basis. Omitting an easily accessible compartment only worsens the situation, he says.

"Unknown to the Plaintiff, and undisclosed to the public prior to purchase, the iPhone is a sealed unit with it's [sic] battery soldered on the inside of the device so that it cannot be changed by the owner," the suit notes.

The replacement locks customers into purchasing an $86 replacement from Apple alone and brings a $29 surcharge for customers who want a temporary unit, which could be avoided through an easy-access, removable battery pack. AT&T is also named in the suit and is jointly accused of hiding battery replacement terms until after the iPhone had been listed for sale.

A victory in the complaint would have both Apple and AT&T pay actual losses as well as punitive damages to customers who weren't properly warned in advance of the long-term costs of maintaining a working battery in the phone.

Apple has not commented on the suit but states that the battery lasts for far longer, delivering up to 400 charges at peak efficiency and only then gradually losing power capacity rather than dying altogether.

AC adapter glitches plaguing Apple

Complaints are steadily growing in number that the iPhone's AC adapter has proven unreliable for early buyers.

A discussion thread on Apple's support website contains a large number of reports of the stand-alone power unit permanently losing its ability to recharge the phone. Plugging the iPhone directly into a USB port charges the device without problems, according to the anecdotes. Other testers have tried replacing the dock-to-USB cable and different wall outlets, ruling out other factors that could prevent a steady power supply.

Apple has yet to formally recognize any widespread issues but can replace the adapter for free as part of the iPhone's hardware warranty.