Disgruntled iPhone customers have filed at least 59 separate lawsuits accusing Apple of slowing down their phones so they would be encouraged to buy new models.

The case could become one of the biggest legal challenges since it was first debuted in 2007, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The first lawsuits were filed after Apple disclosed in December its software updates purposely reduce the performance of older iPhone models in order to preserve battery life, according to the Daily Mail.

The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified financial amounts, attorney fees and free iPhone battery replacements.

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They also want Apple to release a corrective advertising campaign.

The lawsuits are currently seeking class-action status, and those efforts to combine the cases into one class-action suit will take place at a legal meeting in Atlanta Thursday.

At the meeting prosecutors will start the effort to have the class certified and a lead attorney and court location will be chosen, the Journal said.

Apple declined to comment about the proceedings when approached by the paper.

The tech company has previously said it would never intentionally shorten or degrade the lives of its services - stating Apple's goal is to make iPhones last as long as possible.

The number of lawsuits being filed outnumbers the amount filed in 2010 over the iPhone 4's tendency to drop calls by nearly three times.

Though class-action lawsuits are normal in cases filed against big companies, the expansive number of suits being filed in this instance is unusual.

Legal experts told the Journal that any more than 20 suits filed against one company is a lot for one class-action case.

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The admission by Apple in December is now being investigated for potential securities violations by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Analysts have said the upcoming multi-year court battles could force Apple, which is notoriously secretive, to disclose secret details about how the phones and other devices are developed.

And if a decision is made against Apple it could be applicable to other tech giants, requiring them to be more transparent about how software or hardware features affect power or performance.

"Whatever affects Apple would affect anyone making battery devices," said Ira Rothken, an attorney representing the plaintiffs in the 2010 case.

The company is also currently facing questions from consumer and watchdog groups in other countries - including France, Italy and China.

Apple is in a unique position to the company due to the vast number of lawsuits being filed, in addition to the battle to convince users its newest iPhone X is worth US$1,000 ($1,386) or more.

Additionally, people are holding onto their devices longer and the global demand for smartphones is waning.