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Thursday, August 16, 2007, 04:00 pm PT (07:00 pm ET)

Second class-action suit filed over alleged iPhone battery fraud

A Bay Area resident is the next to join the ranks of those filing lawsuits against Apple and AT&T, arguing that both companies have tricked customers into paying for frequent battery replacements.

Sydney Leung's nine-page class-action complaint, filed in a Northern District of California court on Monday, accusing both Apple and AT&T of fraud in neglecting to inform potential iPhone buyers of the costs involved in maintaining a working battery for the iPhone over the course of the handset's lifespan.

In a virtual repeat of the argument made by Jose Trujillo in his Illinois lawsuit from July, Leung and his representing lawyers Arthur Lazear and Max Folkenflik claim that the battery in the iPhone will last only 300 complete charges before depleting entirely. And again like Trujillo, the new suit contends that the battery will need to be replaced every year by Apple alone due to the sealed rear compartment, which prevents third-party technicians and users from swapping batteries themselves without voiding the warranty.

The accumulated costs of ordering the replacement, shipping, and the loaner iPhone would amount to over $100 each year on top of the three-day replacement process, the lawsuit claims. But as neither Apple nor AT&T had provided warning about any of the costs involved in maintaining a useful battery until after the launch, customers who had bought iPhones during the June 29th introductory weekend — including Leung — were not informed of the time and money required until they were locked into a two-year AT&T service contract.

The scope of the complaint is believed to cover the "hundreds of thousands" of users who had bought iPhones before Apple and AT&T publicized the battery replacement details, and therefore demands a class-action suit on their behalf, Folkenflik and Lazear write. As a representative of the affected iPhone buyers, Leung's party demands a jury trial and hopes to recoup the cost of replacing batteries as well as punitive damages for misleading the first wave of customers.

For its part, Apple has not issued public statements about the suit and continues to contradict the claims of both Leung and Trujillo regarding the cellphone's battery life. The Cupertino, Calif.-based electronics firm officially states on its website that the lithium-ion pack maintains its full charging potential for between 300 and 400 cycles and should still hold the majority of its charge for some time afterwards.

Customers are also not required to spend more than $100 for each replacement, since purchasing the AppleCare plan for iPhones would cover any battery replacements needed during the two years of the AT&T agreement. Users have further reported that the iPhone's SIM card functions on a basic level in many other AT&T phones, allowing customers with existing handsets to waive the $29 fee for a temporary iPhone in the event of a battery swap.