Class Action Lawsuit Targets Apple for iPhone 4 Power Button

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A Florida woman has launched a class action lawsuit against Apple, accusing the company of knowingly and willingly selling the iPhone 4 with a faulty power button. Debra Hilton filed the suit in the U.S. District Court of Northern California in San Jose, and she's seeking US$5 million on behalf of iPhone owners.

The suit alleges that the iPhone 4 has a defect in the flex cable that controls the power button—also known as the sleep button—on the device. According to court documents uncovered by GigaOM, the plaintiff alleges that Apple knew about this defect but decided that silence on the issue would help the company sell more of the device.

iPhone 4 Power Button

The iPhone 4 Power/Sleep Button
Original image courtesy of iFixIt

The suit points to a thread in Apple's support forums about the iPhone 4's power button, a thread with more than 821,000 views as of this writing. There's also a YouTube video offering an easy fix for the button that was deemed noteworthy.

The suit also alleges that the issue tends to manifest after the one-year warranty period that comes with the device in the U.S. expires.

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It's easy to be cynical about class actions launched at Apple. The company's extraordinary success and enormous wealth makes it a prime target for such suits, sparking us to coin the term "The Apple Lawsuit Express" several years ago.

The reliance on a YouTube video in this particular suit doesn't exactly inspire confidence, either.

Apple does, however, make the occasional mistake. There are a lot of folks complaining about the issue in the company's forums, and even more people reading that thread. It's possible that there is smoke behind this fire, but that's for the courts to decide.

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My Ford Escort broke down right after the warranty expired. This happened to lots of Escort owners I knew. Ford even knew about it since they ended up fixing all these cars.

Why didn’t we sue? I guess I’m not a real merican! smile


If a phone is sold as part of a 2 year contract, then it should last that long if you take care of it. I have an iPhone with this problem and its a real problem. I have 2 friends that have iPhones that have had this happen in the last 3 months. I take really good care of my phone and have never had any issues like this or ones caused by me with previous cell phones. Apple acts like this isn’t something on their end, but why is this happening to so many people? The antenna thing was definitely a design flaw an they admitted that one. I think it’s easy to be cynical when it’s not affecting you. If this is the only way to get them to admit and fix it, then they bring it on themselves.


I have not had this problem with the iPhone, but you are right Carrie. A phone that costs this much should easily last much much longer than the contract. It is an expensive chunk of hardware. It should work like one.

Apple should institute a recall perhaps and fix everyone’s buttons for free if they need fixing. Since it is a flaw, they should repair phones that come back for free too.


It’s not just the iPhone 4—My several month old iPhone 5’s power button is also beginning to fail—It is worth noting that the same thing happened to the home button on my iPhone 4 and Apple replaced it immediately—


I’m not trying to be clever or snide etc.

How often do those with the button issue use the button a day ?
Just wondering….


Daughters power button failed she ended up upgrading to a 5. She used the button quite a lot.

Danielle Heimermann

This has happened to me twice. The first time it happened right before my one year warranty expired. Then again yesterday with the replacement just 6 months after it was replaced but the replacement only has a 90 day warrenty. My phone is in great confusion too. No scratches or anything. The button is the only issue. It seems scratchy to me that this happened twice. They told my husband that the blame was on the otter case.

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