Apple says 'looking into' video of apparent iPhone 7 Plus meltdown

Posted:
in iPhone edited February 24
Apple is investigating the circumstances behind a widely circulated video showing a partially melted, smoking iPhone 7 Plus, the result of what appears to be a major device malfunction, reports said late Thursday.




On Wednesday, Brianna Olivas posted to Twitter a video of smoke billowing from a large crack in her rose gold iPhone 7 Plus. Seen below, the footage reveals a large section of the iPhone's display pulling away from its aluminum chassis anchoring, then delaminating from its coverglass only seconds later.

As of this writing, Olivas' video accumulated well over 1 million views and has been retweeted more than 22,000 times.

In a statement to Mashable, Olivas said she experienced problems powering up her device, which was purchased from a Sprint store in January, just one day prior to the video. She took the phone in to an Apple store for testing, but employees -- presumably Geniuses -- found the device to be working normally.

The next morning, Olivas had the iPhone charging next to her head. Her boyfriend, rather fortuitously, moved it to a nearby dresser as he made his way to the restroom, moments later seeing the device "steaming" and making a "squealing" noise. He quickly grabbed the iPhone and put it on Olivas' bathroom sink, where the device "blew up."

So my IPhone 7 plus blew up this morning 🤗 was not even using it, literally no explanation for this pic.twitter.com/sQ8CJt4Y69

-- Bree✨ (@briannaolivas_)


While the exact cause of the meltdown is unknown, the wispy white smoke is indicative of a catastrophic battery pack failure in which vaporized electrolyte material is emitted. The event, sometimes caused by a thermal runaway, is often characterized by the cascading disintegration of neighboring cells.

Beyond what appears to be a bulging effect where the iPhone 7 Plus battery pack lives, the presence of chemical stains seen on the damaged device's exterior further support the theory of a battery failure.

In any case, Olivas has since handed the phone over to Apple. The company has yet to issue an explanation of the incident, saying only, "We are in touch with the customer and looking into it."

Though smartphone users have for years been aware of rare battery malfunctions, consumers are perhaps more sensitive to the dangers of lithium-ion cell failures after Samsung's recent Galaxy Note 7 fiasco brought the issue to the fore. Shortly after the Korean tech giant launched its Note 7 phablet last year, users began to complain of exploding or combusting handsets. As reports piled in, Samsung was forced to halt shipments in late August, later deciding to activate a voluntary global recall of some 2.5 million devices.

Replacement Note 7 units suffered from the same problems, prompting Samsung to stop all sales of the device on Oct. 10 and discontinue the product line a day later. A subsequent investigation into the matter revealed manufacturing and design flaws led to the conflagrations.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 56
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 1,588moderator
    Hopefully an isolated incident that can be explained after Apple's investigation.  
    watto_cobrajbdragon
  • Reply 2 of 56
    Interesting. I was at the Apple Store Genius Bar last week. Saw a customer with an iPhone 7 plus. He said his phone was next to his bed charging and he saw it randomly reboot. Unfortunately the iPhone never got pass the Apple logo screen and he said the phone felt really warm even after unplugging it from the charger. The genius guy couldn't get it to restore. I was finished with my appointment before I saw what the Genius did to help the guy.
    edited February 24
  • Reply 3 of 56
    Wonder if they are using Apple branded wall chargers or third party.
    mwhitenetmageirelandwatto_cobraargonaut
  • Reply 4 of 56
    SoliSoli Posts: 2,561member
    JinTech said:
    Wonder if they are using Apple branded wall chargers or third party.
    While it's entirely possible that out of over a billion products Apple has sold with a lithium-ion polymer battery that they caught on camera a defective unit, I'd guess the most likely culprit is from cheap and/or counterfeit PSUs. Maybe Apple should do more to keep their devices from accepting power from questionable chargers or maybe we need regulations that prevent poorly made PSUs and cables from being at every check out counter.
    netmageSpamSandwichwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 56
    Soli said:
    JinTech said:
    Wonder if they are using Apple branded wall chargers or third party.
    While it's entirely possible that out of over a billion products Apple has sold with a lithium-ion polymer battery that they caught on camera a defective unit, I'd guess the most likely culprit is from cheap and/or counterfeit PSUs. Maybe Apple should do more to keep their devices from accepting power from questionable chargers or maybe we need regulations that prevent poorly made PSUs and cables from being at every check out counter.

    No. I already debunked this last time. The circuitry (usually a power management IC) to control battery charging is inside the iPhone. The charger is just a "dumb" power supply that sends voltage to the charging circuit.

    These circuits are fairly robust and can handle overvoltages several times their normal operating voltage (5V for iPhones from USB). They also have protection to shut down in case of excess voltage, short circuits or reverse polarity. In short, your battery isn't going to overcharge because the charger is putting out too much power since your battery has no direct connection to the charger.

    In the case of extreme voltage (say 100V) the circuitry, circuit board traces and other components are going to go up in smoke (essentially a very expensive fuse) long before any of that voltage gets to your battery. So you'd have a small smoke show, but your battery would be ok.
    singularitytmaykamiltonredgeminipaviclauyycicoco3argonaut
  • Reply 6 of 56
    SoliSoli Posts: 2,561member
    Soli said:
    JinTech said:
    Wonder if they are using Apple branded wall chargers or third party.
    While it's entirely possible that out of over a billion products Apple has sold with a lithium-ion polymer battery that they caught on camera a defective unit, I'd guess the most likely culprit is from cheap and/or counterfeit PSUs. Maybe Apple should do more to keep their devices from accepting power from questionable chargers or maybe we need regulations that prevent poorly made PSUs and cables from being at every check out counter.

    No. I already debunked this last time. The circuitry (usually a power management IC) to control battery charging is inside the iPhone. The charger is just a "dumb" power supply that sends voltage to the charging circuit.

    These circuits are fairly robust and can handle overvoltages several times their normal operating voltage (5V for iPhones from USB). They also have protection to shut down in case of excess voltage, short circuits or reverse polarity. In short, your battery isn't going to overcharge because the charger is putting out too much power since your battery has no direct connection to the charger.

    In the case of extreme voltage (say 100V) the circuitry, circuit board traces and other components are going to go up in smoke (essentially a very expensive fuse) long before any of that voltage gets to your battery. So you'd have a small smoke show, but your battery would be ok.
    Why do you assume that the battery issue started with the battery? Why physics tell you that any surge from an external power source will create an impenetrable barrier in an iPhone that will absolutely guarantee that internal electronics will never negatively affect the device's battery? I know of no such engineering feats that make such absolute claims.
    netmagestanthemanpscooter63bdkennedyargonaut
  • Reply 7 of 56
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 1,593member
    Soli said:
    JinTech said:
    Wonder if they are using Apple branded wall chargers or third party.
    While it's entirely possible that out of over a billion products Apple has sold with a lithium-ion polymer battery that they caught on camera a defective unit, I'd guess the most likely culprit is from cheap and/or counterfeit PSUs. Maybe Apple should do more to keep their devices from accepting power from questionable chargers or maybe we need regulations that prevent poorly made PSUs and cables from being at every check out counter.
    I had to borrow a charger a few years back. The phone did warn me that there was an unapproved cable plugged into the iPhone. I plugged it out straight away. This kit is way too expensive to muck about with. 

    Still, they've done the right thing by sending the phone back to Apple so they can take a look at it. 
    mike54watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 56
    Karma catching up? For a long time, Apple has been tempting karma - selling overpriced lightning cables to customers whose cables frayed out within months, soldering RAM into the motherboards, so that customers have no choice but to accept Apple's rip off pricing, etc. When a company goes out of its way to screw its own loyal customers, you can be assured that its day of reckoning is coming. It is ridiculous that a company that makes such humongous profits and that charges such a stiff price for admission into their walled garden finds the need to rip off even its own loyal customers this way. And not just the company, even Apple shareholders and Apple fan boys rubbed their hands in glee when Samsung had a huge loss from the Note 7 recall. There's lot of bad karma in there too. Apple's greed will only get worse. They will keep pushing the envelope, trying to make the phones thinner - even if the wimpy batteries struggle to last the whole day! They only care for making these devices as thin and as light as possible. Obviously, all that thinness and lightness is making the devices vulnerable to such problems. It is indeed unbelievable how many people hate Apple. And how even a lot of Apple's customers hate the company.
    avon b7caliviclauyyc
  • Reply 9 of 56
    JinTech said:
    Wonder if they are using Apple branded wall chargers or third party.
    Ahh the old "You're not charging it right" meme...
  • Reply 10 of 56
    Rayz2016 said:
    Soli said:
    JinTech said:
    Wonder if they are using Apple branded wall chargers or third party.
    While it's entirely possible that out of over a billion products Apple has sold with a lithium-ion polymer battery that they caught on camera a defective unit, I'd guess the most likely culprit is from cheap and/or counterfeit PSUs. Maybe Apple should do more to keep their devices from accepting power from questionable chargers or maybe we need regulations that prevent poorly made PSUs and cables from being at every check out counter.
    I had to borrow a charger a few years back. The phone did warn me that there was an unapproved cable plugged into the iPhone. I plugged it out straight away. This kit is way too expensive to muck about with. 

    Still, they've done the right thing by sending the phone back to Apple so they can take a look at it. 
    Seems like a reasonable approach. Certify cables and chargers and warn users on connection that a cable or charger isn't approved.
  • Reply 11 of 56
    JinTech said:
    Wonder if they are using Apple branded wall chargers or third party.
    She's using a cheap off brand charger with no protection circuitry... I guarantee it.

    Take any iPhone and run 120v (or even 30v) thru the charging port and you can likely overwhelm the protection circuitry built into the phone over time (it's designed for transients, not 8 hours of charging 20 days a month!) 

    Eventually the phone can't protect itself, the LiIon battery gets over charged and puffs up like this.  (The expansion is the protective plastic shell the battery is in preventing a very explosive lithium fire.)

    I've done a lot of damage to lithium batteries as part of Robot combat events (think BattleBots but smaller).  They are very powerful, and have to be treated right.

    This is why you NEVER use anything but an Apple charger.
    StrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 56

    hentaiboy said:
    JinTech said:
    Wonder if they are using Apple branded wall chargers or third party.
    Ahh the old "You're not charging it right" meme...

    It's not a meme.  It's like playing with matches near an opened gasoline tank and then calling it "The old "you're refueling it wrong" meme"


    netmagerandominternetpersoncalijahbladeStrangeDayswatto_cobrabestkeptsecret
  • Reply 13 of 56
    JinTech said:
    Wonder if they are using Apple branded wall chargers or third party.
    She's using a cheap off brand charger with no protection circuitry... I guarantee it.

    Take any iPhone and run 120v (or even 30v) thru the charging port and you can likely overwhelm the protection circuitry built into the phone over time (it's designed for transients, not 8 hours of charging 20 days a month!) 

    Eventually the phone can't protect itself, the LiIon battery gets over charged and puffs up like this.  (The expansion is the protective plastic shell the battery is in preventing a very explosive lithium fire.)

    I've done a lot of damage to lithium batteries as part of Robot combat events (think BattleBots but smaller).  They are very powerful, and have to be treated right.

    This is why you NEVER use anything but an Apple charger.
    Third party chargers can be worse, as good as, or better than Apple chargers. If Apple charged less for chargers people would be less tempted to go non-Apple. Their chargers are anything but robust and have a long history of poor design with cable ends. I have no idea why lightening connector casings aren't stronger and do not flange slightly on either side to able to pull them out more easily. A slight curve would make things far easier for people to pull out. Especially people who aren't able to apply much force between thumb and index finger.

    Given the simple function of the device, I'd implement a lifetime warranty and ask users to hand in the failed charger to get a new one. No doubt it would lead to an instant improvement in the basic design.
    edited February 24 birkoviclauyycargonaut
  • Reply 14 of 56
    I guess Macarena's post predictably shows that "haters gotta hate".
    jcdinkinstomkarlMikeymikecaliwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 56
    P-DogNC said:
    I guess Macarena's post predictably shows that "haters gotta hate".
    Would it be equally true to say "lovers Gotta love"?

    The real point though, is how do you know which is which or neither of the two?
  • Reply 16 of 56
    Not discrediting but the Story doesn't match, According to her If the iPhone had problem powering up and took to Apple store than obviously they would have replaced it because you can recreate it. Other observation is how can someone close to at sink ready to take video while knowing ahead it will go on fire. In Samsung case, the Note 7 was blowing up in kids hand on street and on airplane where you can not manufacture incident. People do all kind of crazy things and one I have witnessed it on iphone. Other problem is cheap charger/cable which once did screw up my iPhone 4.
    edited February 24 watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 56
    Interesting. I was at the Apple Store Genius Bar last week. Saw a customer with an iPhone 7 plus. He said his phone was next to his bed charging and he saw it randomly reboot. Unfortunately the iPhone never got pass the Apple logo screen and he said the phone felt really warm even after unplugging it from the charger. The genius guy couldn't get it to restore. I was finished with my appointment before I saw what the Genius did to help the guy.
    My wife's iPhone 6S Plus did this.  Rebooted spontaneously and then would get to the Apple Logo, stay for a bit, then reboot in and endless cycle.  I was able to boot it into restore mode, and even restoring it the problem did not go away.  Took it to the Genius Bar, and the gal there did the same thing and tried to get it to run diagnostics, but had absolutely no luck.  The tech ended up giving my wife a 'new' phone (hard to tell if they are refurbs or not).  Whole process took less than 15 minutes before we were out the door.
    caliwatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 56
    Apple stock turns around after not having done much the past couple of years (besides recently) and a story likes this one comes out.  I don't have a tin foil hat but I do find it suspiciously coincidental.
    SpamSandwichradarthekatjahbladedementuschikanwatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 56
    rwesrwes Posts: 143member
    avon b7 said:
    JinTech said:
    Wonder if they are using Apple branded wall chargers or third party.
    She's using a cheap off brand charger with no protection circuitry... I guarantee it.

    Take any iPhone and run 120v (or even 30v) thru the charging port and you can likely overwhelm the protection circuitry built into the phone over time (it's designed for transients, not 8 hours of charging 20 days a month!) 

    Eventually the phone can't protect itself, the LiIon battery gets over charged and puffs up like this.  (The expansion is the protective plastic shell the battery is in preventing a very explosive lithium fire.)

    I've done a lot of damage to lithium batteries as part of Robot combat events (think BattleBots but smaller).  They are very powerful, and have to be treated right.

    This is why you NEVER use anything but an Apple charger.
    Third party chargers can be worse, as good as, or better than Apple chargers. If Apple charged less for chargers people would be less tempted to go non-Apple. Their chargers are anything but robust and have a long history of poor design with cable ends. I have no idea why lightening connector casings aren't stronger and do not flange slightly on either side to able to pull them out more easily. A slight curve would make things far easier for people to pull out. Especially people who aren't able to apply much force between thumb and index finger.

    Given the simple function of the device, I'd implement a lifetime warranty and ask users to hand in the failed charger to get a new one. No doubt it would lead to an instant improvement in the basic design.
    Some of my favorite links to provide people (often friends, who still probably never read them):
    http://www.righto.com/2012/10/a-dozen-usb-chargers-in-lab-apple-is.html
    http://www.righto.com/2012/05/apple-iphone-charger-teardown-quality.html
    http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-38167551

    macarena said:
    Karma catching up? For a long time, Apple has been tempting karma - selling overpriced lightning cables to customers whose cables frayed out within months, soldering RAM into the motherboards, so that customers have no choice but to accept Apple's rip off pricing, etc. When a company goes out of its way to screw its own loyal customers, you can be assured that its day of reckoning is coming. It is ridiculous that a company that makes such humongous profits and that charges such a stiff price for admission into their walled garden finds the need to rip off even its own loyal customers this way. And not just the company, even Apple shareholders and Apple fan boys rubbed their hands in glee when Samsung had a huge loss from the Note 7 recall. There's lot of bad karma in there too. Apple's greed will only get worse. They will keep pushing the envelope, trying to make the phones thinner - even if the wimpy batteries struggle to last the whole day! They only care for making these devices as thin and as light as possible. Obviously, all that thinness and lightness is making the devices vulnerable to such problems. It is indeed unbelievable how many people hate Apple. And how even a lot of Apple's customers hate the company.
    I'm a little biased, being a little bit obsessive compulsive (and having worked for 'cable' manufacturers), but people could treat their cables better. I loaned a lighting cable to a friend to charge his phone, in a rented vehicle. At one point, he grabbed his phone, by reaching for and pulling the cable first, no where near the (small) strain relife on the cable. I nicely asked him not to do that and explain why. I have lightning cables, in near perfect conditions (aside from some discoloration due to long use), from when I got my iPhone 5. That being said, a majority of people don't know/care to know how to handle their cables.
    edited February 24 SpamSandwichrandominternetpersoncalijahbladeStrangeDayswatto_cobraargonaut
  • Reply 20 of 56
    rob55rob55 Posts: 1,211member
    rwes said:

    ...That being said, a majority of people don't know/care to know how to handle their cables.
    My co-worker borrowed my pristine lightning cable earlier this week for a sum total of about 24 hours, and when I got it back, it did not look like the same cable. There was what looked like a coffee stain on it, and the lightning end looked noticeably dirty compared to the other end. I actually asked her, "what did you do to this thing?" She just shrugged and denied mistreating it. Plus one for people definitely not caring how they handle their cables.
    dementuschikanwatto_cobraargonaut
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