Apple hit with class action lawsuit over storage consumed by iOS 8

“Apple has been hit with a lawsuit alleging that it doesn’t inform users just how much storage its new operating system will eat up – and then prods them to buy more space through its iCloud service,” Julia Love reports for The Mercury News. “The case, filed in the Bay Area’s federal court on Tuesday, claims iOS 8 can take up as much as 23.1 percent of the advertised storage capacity on Apple gadgets, but few users realize that when they make their purchases.”

“‘We feel that there are a substantial number of Apple consumers that have been shortchanged, and we’ll be pursuing the claims vigorously,’ said William Anderson, a lawyer at Cuneo Gilbert & Laduca, a Washington, D.C.-based law firm,” Love reports. “Apple has touted iOS 8 as the “biggest iOS 8 release ever,” a tagline plaintiffs lawyers tried to spin to their advantage in the complaint, arguing that few users understood just how much space the software would take up. They claim Apple exploits the space constraints by peddling iCloud subscriptions when users run out of storage. ‘Using these sharp business tactics, defendant gives less storage capacity than advertised, only to offer to sell that capacity in a desperate moment, e.g., when a consumer is trying to record or take photos at a child or grandchild’s recital, basketball game or wedding,’ plaintiffs allege in the complaint.”

Love reports, “Apple has fended off such claims before, beating back a Canadian case in 2012 that alleged the company misled consumers about the amount of storage on the iPod.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: From Apple’s iPhone webpage, verbatim:

“Actual formatted capacity less.”


  1. This is just stupid. The article says:

    Apple has been hit with a lawsuit alleging that it doesn’t inform users just how much storage its new operating system will eat up – and then prods them to buy more space through its iCloud service.

    There is no relationship between the storage on a device and iCloud storage. iCloud storage is, currently, only for backups (though that will change when the new Photos app is released). And iTunes Match is a subscription service that doesn’t specify storage space.

    I do agree with this, however:

    Depending on the device they purchase, consumers who install iOS 8 allegedly receive substantially less storage than advertised, ranging from 18.1 percent for the iPhone 5s to 23.1 percent for the iPod, according to the complaint.

    I think this should be made a lot clearer.

    1. If people do not understand the storage/OS issue by now, then they are seriously under informed. This type of issue has been raised a number of times over the years, and Apple is issuing the required legal disclaimers.

      That said, I have long advocated for Apple to increase the minimum RAM in its devices to 32GB.

      1. i have an Xbox One and after downloading a few games (very large, 40gb+ each) wondered why storage seemed to be less than I expected. I quickly learned the 500gb Xbox One only has 360gb usable. I have no idea why the system uses/needs 140gb.

        It might be better for consumers if usable memory was advertised as this is what needs to be known.

      1. Apple’s cost for RAM are relatively low because of its volume. Apple could increase the base RAM from 16GB to 32GB at relatively little direct cost. The primary effect would be to decrease the percentage of people jumping to the midrange 64GB models, thus putting a bit of a dent in The company’s gross margin.

        1. I don’t think anybody is complaining about RAM; they are complaining about storage (SSD); iPhones now come with 1GB of RAM and start at 16GB of storage, which definitely is NOT RAM.

    1. Exactly. My neighbor has a 16GB iPad and she cannot update to iOS 8.1 which requires a free 5GB to install. She would have to wipe virtually everything off of her phone to update.

      1. Delete the apps. Install the update. Reinstall the apps. . . they’ll be on the cloud waiting for you. You’ve downloaded them once, you’re entitled to them. You don’t have to pay again if they’re purchased apps.

        1. Again, just use USB..

          When you delete some apps you tend to lose settings/data etc.. Delete a 1gb game for example, you get to start over cause all your progress is gone.

          My niece has a 16gb iPhone 5c, she deleted all her photos and music to install the update, while she had it plugged into her MBP.. which is another option i’d take before deleting apps. (Back them up first!)
          She didn’t know she could update it over USB without having to remove stuff.

          1. I wrote that for the people who have devices but DON’T have computers to use for USB upgrades. They do exist, you know. . . and ther there are many delectable apps that don’t have data which can be deleted with impunity.

  2. Lawyers will certainly know all there is to know about sharp business practices, such failing to deliver what people expect and charging excessive amounts when a customer finds themselves in a desperate situation.

    Meanwhile back in the real world – where people have intelligence, anybody who has ever used a computing device already knows that the headline capacity figure has to include the operating system that also has to live on it, so the available free storage is somewhat less. Pursuing Apple over this issue is particularly absurd because Apple tends to have a more tightly written operating system than most of it’s rivals and therefore a smaller percentage of the storage space is used up in that way.

    1. “anybody who has ever used a computing device already knows that the headline capacity figure has to include the operating system that also has to live on it, so the available free storage is somewhat less”

      I don’t think so. The average user has no clue.

      1. Correct. Most users are not computer technicians. Apple does a poor job of documentation at point of purchase on the best ways to handle upgrades because of the “just work” philosophy and spartan packaging .

    2. People know their memory has to hold the OS. What they don’t know is how big the OS is. And even worse, that memory has to hold the old OS and the new OS when performing an OS update.
      So, the reality is that a 16GB device ends up giving you less than 6GB to work with. Nobody at Apple will tell you that.

  3. 1. Apple deliberately sells 16 GB (or other low amounts of storage) and 64 GB iPhones with no intermediate 32 GB. 1b. This is designed to entice some users to spend more for 64 GB.

    2. Meanwhile, we have 2 or 3 questions for the 16 GB users:
    a. Those who knew iOS 8 was big or not.
    b. Those who would be satisfied with 16 GB even if they knew iOS 8 was really big (there’s more than one way to parse this issue)

    So, the lawsuit is about a certain subset of users.

    I am guessing the lawsuit is relying on some version of “bait and switch” and that Apple’s defense will be “the users were informed.”

      1. Ty KingMel.

        The public relations aspect is the more damning thing of course. Apple for years shipped Macs with abysmal RAM. All the smart consumers were buying RAM from places like Critical and Ramjet and such.

        Apple Marketing just can not bring themselves to admit to the consumer “you know, 16 GB is comparatively lame.”

  4. iOS8 does chew up more space than iOS7, but I think one of the iOS8 updates (the last one?) actually used less than the one before it. Advertizing a 128GB iPad that is down to only 114GB available is getting a bit Samsungish. They should have just put more in and partitioned it so the user gets what’s printed on the box and not a byte less…or go way out on a limb and be honest. Maybe next year.

    1. “Microsoft’s 64GB Surface Pro tablet ships with about a third of its advertised storage capacity when it goes on sale February 9. While it’s common for tablets to have less storage space available because of preinstalled software, the Surface Pro is one of the worst offenders compared to the identical issue faced by Apple’s iPad, Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD, and Surface RT.”

    2. EXACTLY ‘andintroducing’. And then there’s this confusion, as I see it anyway, about what iCloud is for. It is NOT an addendum to the space on any iOS device. It’s for BACKUP and STORAGE of what’s already on your device. You don’t take pictures then have them off-loaded to iCloud in order to free up space on your device. Am I missing something here?!

    1. Yeah, I know. I thought Apple was a leader. Why don’t they change that? There are zero technical issues to prevent it. I guess even bad publicity is publicity. Everyone changed to reporting disk sizes in 1000’s of bytes, instead of 1024’s of bytes. I don’t see how giving users the actual amount of storage available printed on the box is any different. Either give us that amount or change the numbers on the box. I know I’d be pretty pissed if I only got 3/4 of a gallon of gas when the pump said I paid for a whole gallon.

  5. The lawsuit associating iOS8 size and prodding to purchase more iCloud storage is stupid.

    However, complaints that iOS is taking up to 23% of available storage off the bat is totally legit. Anyone remember when MDN and others blasted Windows RT for taking up half the available disk space?

    Microsoft’s bloated Windows RT eats 16GB of Surface tablet

    This really highlights why Apple must move to a 32 GB base model with iOS9, because Apple is going down that same path… actually they’ve already painted themselves into a corner for a small but significant percentage of iOS users. iOS 8 installed size is 3-5 GB depending on device, you can expect iOS9 will be even bigger, yet Apple is still selling older iPhone 5c (with iOS8 preinstalled now) that only have 8GB!

    These will skew iOS 9 adoption rates lower because 8GB iPhones will *never* be updated if they’re not hooked up to a computer with iTunes.

  6. This issue prompted me to return my 16gb iPhone 6 and get a 128gb iPhone 6. I work in a restaurant and was taking pictures of different dishes when I quickly ran out of space. The size of the OS coupled with the increase in picture quality really uses up space fast. However, this is not an issue for the legal system.

  7. This is going to fall into the “reasonable man” test, or in this case “reasonable layman.”

    The theory goes, “if you are non-technical, but aware that the iPhone is a computer that needs an operating system which takes up some of the space advertised, how much of that space would you reasonably expect it takes up before you’d expect Apple to make an effort to tell you more about it?”

    My answer? No more than 15%. When a device has non-expandable storage internally, and the operating system – which, to be fair, is really firmware (i.e., required for the device to operate, not software installed for specific purposes) – takes up more than 15% of that storage, I think it’s reasonable to expect Apple, or any other manufacturer, to own up to this.

    1. I would say that 15% is very conservative.
      Here’s a reality. iOS 8.0 takes 5 GB on my neighbor’s 16GB iPad mini. She wants to upgrade to iOS 8.1. That requires 5GB to install. So 10 GB must be available just for the OS(es). That’s 62.5%!

      1. No, sir. That’s an install. You need to have the OLD iOS, an image of the new downloaded compressed iOS, and room to decompress it while not overwriting the old iOS, and then be able to process the installation, all while maintaining your apps and data. It does not require 62.5% of the storage to run the OS. Once the install is completed, the downloaded compressed file is deleted, as is the uncompressed install working file which has been used to overwrite the old iOS. The working space is also freed up. The install of iOS also includes apps from Apple: Safari, Phone, Mail, IMessage, Weather, Camera, Passbook, FaceTime, Photos, Calculators, Stocks, Maps, Clock, Contacts, Calendar, App Store, iTunes, Videos, Podcasts, and Notes. There is so much more than just a mere operating system occupying that space.

        In addition, those things are BACKED UP on iCloud. That would be redundant storage. One stores one’s settings and data for the apps, all of which can easily be re-downloaded again for free from the Apple App Store. Same thing for books, music, and other content purchased from the iBooks, iTunes and other sources that can be re-downloaded from Apple sources. The OS is the last thing that needs to be backed up, as it is easily restored from Apple resources. Only original documents, email, photos, personal videos, and passwords and settings, etc., needs to be stored off device for safekeeping on the cloud. . . Apple has NEVER provided enough free iCloud storage to backup the entire 16GB of storage even the smallest current iOS device has after deducting the overhead used by the OS and Apps. . . 5GB is insufficient to handle a large photo collection, and videos. That’s why Apple HAS offered larger optional online storage for those who choose to purchase it. They hardly hold-up customers at gun-point to force them to buy it!

      2. In actual fact, not counting Apps installed with the iOS 8.1 install, the operating system itself consumes only 1.1 to 1.4 GigaBytes of storage on any iOS device, depending on the device. So this lawsuit does not even have its facts correct.

        It is actually quite small compared to other operating systems.

  8. George- iOS 8.1 overwrites iOS 8.0 the requirement is for the full back up required to update Over The Air. This does not apply updating thru a computer. To update the entire device has to be copied so that when it is erased to put on the new system it can restore all of the old content.
    Next- Apple comes much closer to the quoted available space than any other device on the market. A quoted 64GB on a windows tablet has less useable storage than a 32GB Apple product.
    Next – does not every update to you laptop or desktop operating system take up more space than the last one???
    Are you sueing over that? No because you understand it. An iPhone is a computer that makes phone calls where is the difference?
    Next- The attorneys are stupid and as others have mentioned have no idea about was is stored on the device and what is backed up. The iCloud backup uses no space to back up apps, IOS, and music from iTunes. It only saves references to your purchases so that you can get it again for free if it gets lost. The big hog for backup is photos and videos. If you had a film camera you would we selective of the pictures you took or the video that you did not erase when you needed another tape. No one seems to be selective when more pictures are FREE. Shoot ten shots of little Billy and keep them all. Why delete the bad ones-its free! 300 inane videos – keep them all they are free!
    I say USER choice here. I you want to store more stuff it is your choice but you need to by more shelving to do it.

    Take an hour for a FREE workshop at an Apple store or just use that INTERNETS thingy to find out how to do stuff.
    Finding out how is almost as easy as calling some low life lawyer to sue the company.

    1. “Next – does not every update to you laptop or desktop operating system take up more space than the last one???”

      This is not a valid defense for iOS devices, which haven’t increased their base storage in over 5 years (my 2009 iPhone 3GS had 16 GB). Meanwhile iOS ballooned from 700 MB for iOS5 to up to 5 GB for iOS8, going from taking 4.4% to almost 33% of the space on a 16 GB device.

      Since the Macbook Airs went to flash storage in 2010, they at least had the sense to double the base from 64 to 128 GB, and even as OSX increased in size it continues taking up less than 10% of the drive in the latest MBAs.

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