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Smoking, glowing iPhone 4 causes airplane scare

post #1 of 62
Thread Starter 
Reports that an Australian regional airline had to extinguish a glowing red iPhone 4 that was emitting "dense smoke" on an airplane have sparked concerns over the handset's battery safety.

Regional Express (REX), the country's largest independent regional airline, said last Friday that a passenger's iPhone was emitting a "red glow" and smoke on a flight from Lismore to Sydney, PC Mag reports. A flight attendant extinguished the smoking smartphone and no one was injured during the incident.

Judging by the model number of the device, the handset in question is the GSM version of the iPhone 4. AppleInsider reached out to Apple for comment but has yet to hear back from the company.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority have both been notified of the matter. Though the mishap may prompt an investigation by officials, it does appear to be a relatively isolated occurrence.

Smoking iPhone from REX Flight ZL319, via REX.

The issue does, however, come on the heels of an Apple replacement program for the first-generation iPod nano due to potential battery overheating issues. After first rolling out replacement offers in select countries, Apple initiated the program worldwide earlier this month, noting that the problem is "very rare," though the likelihood of overheating does increase over time.

An iPod nano after a fire. | Image credits: The Consumerist.

In April, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill exempting lithium batteries used in consumer electronics from proposed limitations that would classify the batteries as hazardous materials. According to an analysis commissioned by the Rechargeable Battery Association, the limitations would have cost electronics makers $1.13 billion alone in the first year.

One of the biggest consumer electronic battery scares in recent years occurred in 2006. Sony recalled 9.6 million lithium-ion batteries that year after microscopic metal particles were detected inside the batteries. The incident affected Apple, which had to recall 1.8 million iBook and PowerBook G4 batteries. Sony had also supplied the defective batteries to Dell, Fujitsu, Gateway and Toshiba.
post #2 of 62
Hopefully they'll get this 'issue' resolved with an iOS update... \
"Why iPhone"... Hmmm?
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"Why iPhone"... Hmmm?
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post #3 of 62
Whaddya bet they stuck it in a microwave oven?

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post #4 of 62
Oh please please be the same problem as the nano!!!!!! ...only this time instead of just swapping them out, offer me a special trade-in price on a 4S!
post #5 of 62
As has been pointed out by readers on other sites, if you look closely the Apple logo is the "Steve Apple" that's become quite famous (an Apple logo with Steve's profile as the bite mark). This looks like a custom back plate and could explain the problem.

Some user modification seems more likely based on the evidence and this never happening before despite millions of iPhone 4's in circulation that have traveled the globe via airplanes.
post #6 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pendergast View Post

As has been pointed out by readers on other sites, if you look closely the Apple logo is the "Steve Apple" that's become quite famous (an Apple logo with Steve's profile as the bite mark). This looks like a custom back plate and could explain the problem.

Some user modification seems more likely based on the evidence and this never happening before despite millions of iPhone 4's in circulation that have traveled the globe via airplanes.

Wrong shape at the top to be a Steve logo. It's just a fracture in the glass that makes the indent. Regardless, as you said, millions of 4s sold and this is the only incident of a glowing phone. I too think someone stuck it in the microwave.
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post #7 of 62
Maybe they were holding it wrong?
post #8 of 62
1 occurrence out of millions of phones and they haven't even isolated if the phone had ever been dropped, tampered with etc.

Lets wait until we get a battery recall for a batch of 1000+ serials because they might maybe have a battery with a microscopic hole in the battery housing that could perhaps increase and cause the chemicals in the battery to explode, before we start screaming that this is a major issue.


oh and the safety board etc are notified if anything happens on a plane. someone could have a heart attack and they will be notified. a toilet stops up and they are notified. someone's seat ringer doesn't work and they are notified.
post #9 of 62
LALALALALA Kaboom. Man tried to blow up airliner with fake iPhone. Fake iPhone underwear bomber. Can you say knock off? I knew you could. Lol.
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post #10 of 62
Glowing red? An undercover droid!
post #11 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Reports that an Australian regional airline had to extinguish a glowing red iPhone 4 that was emitting "dense smoke" on an airplane have sparked concerns over the handset's battery safety.

Regional Express (REX), the country's largest independent regional airline, said last Friday that a passenger's iPhone was emitting a "red glow" and smoke on a flight from Lismore to Sydney, PC Mag reports. A flight attendant extinguished the smoking smartphone and no one was injured during the incident.

Judging by the model number of the device, the handset in question is the GSM version of the iPhone 4. As seen in the photo provided by the airline (below), the user appears to have modified the device, as the Apple logo on the handset has been replaced by a custom logo overlaid with the profile of late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. If modifications, such as a custom backplate, were made to the iPhone 4, that could explain the malfunction.

AppleInsider reached out to Apple for comment but has yet to hear back from the company.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority have both been notified of the matter. Though the mishap may prompt an investigation by officials, it does appear to be a relatively isolated occurrence.

Smoking iPhone from REX Flight ZL319, via REX.

The issue does, however, come on the heels of an Apple replacement program for the first-generation iPod nano due to potential battery overheating issues. After first rolling out replacement offers in select countries, Apple initiated the program worldwide earlier this month, noting that the problem is "very rare," though the likelihood of overheating does increase over time.

An iPod nano after a fire. | Image credits: The Consumerist.

In April, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill exempting lithium batteries used in consumer electronics from proposed limitations that would classify the batteries as hazardous materials. According to an analysis commissioned by the Rechargeable Battery Association, the limitations would have cost electronics makers $1.13 billion alone in the first year.

One of the biggest consumer electronic battery scares in recent years occurred in 2006. Sony recalled 9.6 million lithium-ion batteries that year after microscopic metal particles were detected inside the batteries. The incident affected Apple, which had to recall 1.8 million iBook and PowerBook G4 batteries. Sony had also supplied the defective batteries to Dell, Fujitsu, Gateway and Toshiba.

i cant believe what samsung would do to get apple products banned in oz
post #12 of 62
It was probably a jailbroken iPhone with an El Qaida version of airplane mode.
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Posted by the door post at the post office the post man posted his last post-millennial post card with a Penny Black postage stamp via the Royal Post.
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post #13 of 62
Clearly this phone was severely damaged prior to the incident. Anytime you have a lithium ion battery and you damage the device sufficiently you can cause a short circuit within the battery that cause it to over heat.
post #14 of 62
When asked if the passenger had been tampering with the bathroom's smoke detector, he replied, "Uhhhh, no.... that smoke is uhhhh.... from my iPhone! My iPhone which just happens to smell like pot!"
post #15 of 62
How many iPhones are out there in the wild again?

Even if this story turns out to be legit, then it's not really a big deal. Could be a faulty battery or something. Sometimes stuff happens, and what's the chance of something like that happening? Probably similar odds as winning the lotto.
post #16 of 62
That looks like a special Steve Jobs memorial back plate that I've seen on replacement part websites. I was actually gonna get one of those, but if it's gonna make the phone do that then i'll wait. Maybe Apple uses a special type of glass for the phones that won't heat up...
post #17 of 62
That's what happens when you illegally try to put Siri on an iPhone 4. She doesn't like it.
post #18 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Fancy Walrus View Post

That looks like a special Steve Jobs memorial back plate that I've seen on replacement part websites.

I could be wrong, but it doesn't look like that to me. I think that the cracks in the glass created an illusion that might fool a few people. It's hard to get a good look at the broken phone since the picture is small and it's at an angle. I don't even know how to use Photoshop, but look at the tiny leaf above the Apple on the broken phone. It looks like there is more space between the leaf and the Apple on the Steve Jobs logo.

Look at Steve Job's chin. The broken phone does not have the same pronounced chin. Look at the top of Steve Job's head and the forehead. The broken phone does not have the same angle.

Like I said, I could be wrong. I'm not a forensic crime investigator.




And one more thing.

If this is the backplate that you're talking about, then it's quite easy to see that there is some text beneath the logo which is not seen on the broken phone.

post #19 of 62
nothings perfect, could be a faulty unit, the DOA rate on apple stuff is getting better n better considering they ship millions of units.
post #20 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Whaddya bet they stuck it in a microwave oven?

I bet you have spent ages looking at the seat in front of you, desperate to heat the meal you brought with you and wondering why the door of the microwave is showing images as if it were a TV, but won't open.
post #21 of 62
iPhone smoke - don't breathe this!
post #22 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

How many iPhones are out there in the wild again?

Even if this story turns out to be legit, then it's not really a big deal. Could be a faulty battery or something. Sometimes stuff happens, and what's the chance of something like that happening? Probably similar odds as winning the lotto.

No big deal?

AFAIK, it took only one, possibly two unproven reports of mobile phones interfering with aircraft navigation systems to to result in a near world-wide ban on their use during taxiing, takeoof and landing.
post #23 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

How many iPhones are out there in the wild again?

Even if this story turns out to be legit, then it's not really a big deal. Could be a faulty battery or something. Sometimes stuff happens, and what's the chance of something like that happening? Probably similar odds as winning the lotto.

About 80 million Iphone4.

So 80 million to 1 that this story is up an up.
post #24 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by cnocbui View Post

No big deal?

AFAIK, it took only one, possibly two unproven reports of mobile phones interfering with aircraft navigation systems to to result in a near world-wide ban on their use during taxiing, takeoof and landing.

A bit of topic: The real reason why people are not allowed to have cell phones on in airplanes is because of the base stations. Cell phones roams from cell tower to cell tower. The system goes nuts when a single phone is trying roam from 40000 feet altitude with high speed.

(I worked at Ericsson radio systems. They make about 50% of all base stations in the world. AT&T suck because they only installed 1/3 of the cell density that is recommended. Even more off topic)
post #25 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post


Please tell me that is a case. Please tell me where to buy said case

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post #26 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaHarder View Post

Hopefully they'll get this 'issue' resolved with an iOS update... \

Highly unlikely. This would have been caused by a faulty battery, not much the OS can do about that. If its going to blow it going to blow.
post #27 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

AppleInsider reached out to Apple for comment but has yet to hear back from the company.

Every time someone uses 'reached out' to mean 'contacted', a kitten dies.
post #28 of 62
I would definitely take action against apple for this. Not sure if it was in his pocket or not, but something as faulty as this passed QC which should not have happened.
post #29 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacShack View Post

It was probably a jailbroken iPhone with an El Qaida version of airplane mode.

These threads can go back and forth all day long, but you have sunk to the lowest level of stupidity! WE have enough problems with real terrorism for you to make such an absolute sophomoric comment!

TRULY not funny at all! I suggest you spend your day finding a brain! Not to mention, you can't even spell Al Qaeda correctly!
post #30 of 62
I'm curious to know what would cause the Gorilla Glass back to fracture in the way it did, with cracks radiating from near the midpoint on one side and a wedge shaped piece missing. When would this have happened? As a consequence of an internal malfunction that brought about overheating? Or more likely, an impact at one point along the metal side sufficiently hard to both break the class and cause a short circuit within the phone electronics, the battery connections or within he battery itself. Disassembly should indicate a point source for the overheating. As to "glowing red" - I'm having a tough time buying that description. Smoking, too hot to handle - maybe.

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post #31 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlituna View Post

1 occurrence out of millions of phones and they haven't even isolated if the phone had ever been dropped, tampered with etc.

Lets wait until we get a battery recall for a batch of 1000+ serials because they might maybe have a battery with a microscopic hole in the battery housing that could perhaps increase and cause the chemicals in the battery to explode, before we start screaming that this is a major issue.


oh and the safety board etc are notified if anything happens on a plane. someone could have a heart attack and they will be notified. a toilet stops up and they are notified. someone's seat ringer doesn't work and they are notified.

"Reports that an Australian regional airline had to extinguish a glowing red iPhone 4 that was emitting "dense smoke" on an airplane have sparked concerns over the handset's battery safety."

The above quote from the article says it all. Because its Apple this will be spun to the stratosphere. There will be new blogs sprouting up everywhere to beat this to death, predicting this will be the bullet that finally kills Apple. Analysts will weave this into a doomsday scenario for the stock.

Do other phones blow up from time to time? You bet but we don't hear about them because they don't matter. That's both good and bad.
post #32 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnOldAplGuy View Post

These threads can go back and forth all day long, but you have sunk to the lowest level of stupidity! WE have enough problems with real terrorism for you to make such an absolute sophomoric comment!

TRULY not funny at all! I suggest you spend your day finding a brain! Not to mention, you can't even spell Al Qaeda correctly!

I wouldn't complain too much about the spelling - the media isn't even consistent - with Osama and Usama - and according to Wikipedia - Al-Qaeda (Arabic: القاعدة‎, al-qāʿidah, Arabic: [ælˈqɑːʕɪdɐ], English: /ælˈkaɪdə/ al-ky-də, translation: "The Base" and alternatively spelled al-Qaida and sometimes al-Qa'ida)

any time you are dealing with an English translation of a word that does not exist in the English language there may be some wiggle room for how to get it right.

also consider this:

Genl'men of the Jury, said Reynolds, when he summed upand every word weighed a poundthe learned counsel on the other side finds fault with my ritin and spellin as though the merits of this case depended upon sich matters! Im again lugging in any sich outside affairs, but I will say, that a man must be a damned fool, who cant spell a word more than one way. The Jury sympathized with Judge R. and rendered a decision in favor of his client.


it wasn't until the first publication of a dictionary that the notion of there being only one way to spell a given word became prevalent.
post #33 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaHarder View Post

Hopefully they'll get this 'issue' resolved with an iOS update... \

Quote:
Originally Posted by irnchriz View Post

Highly unlikely. This would have been caused by a faulty battery, not much the OS can do about that. If its going to blow it going to blow.

You've been pwned by one of the resident haters. This particular one used to post pictures of every one of his glorious Android devices and expound incessantly about their objective superiority to anything Apple ever made in the last 35 years.
post #34 of 62
I'd like a vegemite sandwich please.
post #35 of 62
I don't buy that the glass fracture caused the "bite" to look like Jobs face. That would be a massive coincidence. Look at the rest of the logo in the same area and it's in excellent condition with no distortion present.

I think it's far more likely it's a modded back, and the reason the face is a little off is because it's being distorted by the cracked glass, not that the cracked glass just happens to look like Jobs.

To the poster who showed the modded back with the text underneath, do you think there's only one version of the back for sale?

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post #36 of 62
Wonder if the phone was on at the time.
post #37 of 62
I'm not having a problem believing this story at all after what my wife went through with her white iPhone 4.

Her phone would get hot. Not warm as in the screen was on a bit but hot. She was using an auxilary cable to plug into her car's stereo for music and the phone actually melted the plug into the ear phone jack. I ca only imagine what additional stresses increased pressure at altitude could put on the device.
post #38 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by bunnyturd View Post

Clearly this phone was severely damaged prior to the incident. Anytime you have a lithium ion battery and you damage the device sufficiently you can cause a short circuit within the battery that cause it to over heat.

We don't know that. It could have been a manufacturing defect. Let's wait until the experts investigate, huh?

Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

AppleInsider reached out to Apple for comment but has yet to hear back from the company.

Well, duh. Why in the world would you expect Apple to give you a comment on this? Just standard journalistic sensationalism to make it look like Apple has something to hide.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Though the mishap may prompt an investigation by officials, it does appear to be a relatively isolated occurrence.

Ya think? 80 million iPhones and this is the first report of an incident like this. I guess that would be 'relatively isolated'.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The issue does, however, come on the heels of an Apple replacement program for the first-generation iPod nano due to potential battery overheating issues. After first rolling out replacement offers in select countries, Apple initiated the program worldwide earlier this month, noting that the problem is "very rare," though the likelihood of overheating does increase over time.

Do you understand what "on the heels of" means? The iPod nanos in question were manufactured in 2005 and 2006. Yes, it uncharacteristically took Apple a long time to implement a program to replace the defective ones, but the problem is over 5 years old. What's the point of bringing it up other than a sensationalistic attempt to make it look like this is a regular problem for Apple?

And why didn't you bring up the more recent problems with lithium ion batteries from other manufacturers. AFAIK, the largest recall of Li-ion batteries in the world was from Sony, not Apple. it happens to all manufacturers of devices using Li-ion batteries, so why bring up a 5 year old Apple situation?
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post #39 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by MomentsofSanity View Post

I'm not having a problem believing this story at all after what my wife went through with her white iPhone 4.

Her phone would get hot. Not warm as in the screen was on a bit but hot. She was using an auxilary cable to plug into her car's stereo for music and the phone actually melted the plug into the ear phone jack. I ca only imagine what additional stresses increased pressure at altitude could put on the device.

You might want to check your facts. Pressure at altitude is DECREASED relative to sea level, not increased.
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post #40 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

You might want to check your facts. Pressure at altitude is DECREASED relative to sea level, not increased.

Well, that's why I said I can only imagine... wasn't sure. DOesn't change my believe the story is plausible.
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