Around 29 million smartphone users in the UK could be due a payout of up to £30 each if a claim led by Which? is approved.
Which? has claimed that Qualcomm, maker of the tech that powers a lot of smartphones, has broken UK competition laws by dominating the manufacture and licensing of smartphone chip markets.
Which? claims that Qualcomm made phone manufacturers pay inflated costs for its chips. This price increase then trickled down to smartphone consumers, leading to more expensive phone prices.
The Which? claim relates to Apple and Samsung smartphones purchased after 1 October 2015.
The consumer watchdog is trying to get damages of up to £30 for each consumer who bought one of the affected smartphones, although the exact amount of compensation would be dependent on the specific smartphone purchased.
But, for the claims to go through and the payouts to be approved, the Competition Appeal Tribunal must allow the case to go ahead.
And this is not the first time Qualcomm has run into trouble over breaking competition laws.
The European Commission fined Qualcomm €997million back in 2018 for its arrangements with Apple.
Qualcomm was also sued by the United States Federal Trade Commission in 2017 for similar charges, but that case was dismissed. Qualcomm is currently appealing the European Commission fines.
The chief executive of Which?, Annabelle Hoult, told the BBC that “We believe Qualcomm’s practices are anti-competitive and have so far taken around £480m from consumers’ pockets – this needs to stop.
“We are sending a clear warning that if companies like Qualcomm indulge in manipulative practices which harm consumers, Which? is prepared to take action.”
However, Qualcomm remains defiant and is insistent that the claims have “no basis”. Speaking to the BBC ,a Qualcomm spokesman said: “As the plaintiffs are well aware, their claims were effectively put to rest last summer by a unanimous panel of judges at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in the United States.”
It remains to be seen which smartphone users will be in line for a payout if the claim is approved, so keep an eye out for further news on this topic if you’ve bought an Apple or Samsung smartphone since October 2015.