Re. Car analogy
Where does all this car nonsense come from?
Here's how car warranties - like *every* other warranty for that matter - work:
Something goes wrong during the warranty period. If the fault was due to bad manufacturing, it gets fixed for free. If it was due to wear and tear, you pay for it.
Apply that to an unlocked iPhone. If a firmware update bricks it, Apple will give you a new one, or fix the original product. If you drop your iPhone and the screen breaks, or the handset is stolen, Apple is under no obligation to give you a new phone or fix the old one. It probably will, in the case of breakages, but that's because it's being nice, not because it's obliged to do so.
If you modify a part of your car or introduce a new part that's not to the manufacturer's specification, the garage will simply say that part is not covered by the warranty and will tell you how much extra it's going to cost to fix the car. At that point it's your choice: pay to have it fixed or leave it as is.
With an unlocked iPhone - ie. a device that's not to the manufacturer's specification - the repair shop - Apple itself, in this case - will refuse to do the work, just as a garage might. You're free to take it elsewhere to be fixed, if you can find one. The point is, Apple is under no obligation to do anything about the fault in this instance, and never was.
Folk who've unlocked iPhones know this - or should have done - and live with it. It's the risk they took when they chose to unlock the handset. I did, and I also accept that risk. If my iPhone bricks or breaks, I have no comeback. That's $399 down the pan.
It *is* a bugger for folk who chose not to unlock their iPhones but tried to sneak in a pre-pay deal even though Apple and AT&T don't officially offer one. But the pre-pay deal they uncovered by subterfuge was *not* part of the offered product, and while it's a bummer, they can't really complain. Like an unlocker, they did something beyond the remit of the iPhone's warranty. They should perhaps have read the small print.
Now, I hope Apple cuts them some slack and provides either a software fix or new handsets. Opting for pre-pay isn't the cardinal sin of consumer electronics that hacking your newly bought phone is. Sign up properly this time and get a new iPhone - that's the deal I can see Apple proferring. I wouldn't like it if I'd gone the pre-pay route, but it's a way all sides can come out of it well.
The unlock process, however, directly modifies the software Apple incorporated into the iPhone. It's not like unlocking any other handset, where you just punch in a few 'secret' codes, it's a direct software mod. Again, that takes the device beyond the terms of the warranty and - crucially - what Apple's legally obliged to cover through its warranty.
That's why any class action will fail, though I can see lawyers doing very nicely out of the battle until a judge chucks the case out.