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iPhone 4 allegedly combusts while charging overnight

post #1 of 68
Thread Starter 
In what appears to be the first reported case of its kind on U.S. shores, a Colorado woman alleges that her iPhone 4 caught fire while charging overnight and wants Apple to warn customers of the device's possible combustion issues.

The woman, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, said she took her story to tech website Mashable in order to spread public awareness over the reported issue, claiming that Apple has been reticent to acknowledge the alleged incident.

The unnamed source claims that she awoke in the early morning during a recent trip to the east coast to find her year-old white iPhone 4 making "sizzling" and "popping" noises. After an unspecified amount of time there was “not quite an explosion, but an immense crackling,” and smoke plumed from the device creating "an awful, putrid smell, almost like you were ingesting plastic of some kind.”

Inspection of the provided pictures yields no clues as to which components were heated to the point of creating smoke, though it a bulging battery is clearly seen to have expanded enough to force apart the iPhone's casing.

According to the report, the iPhone was connected via an Apple-branded charger to a power outlet that was later inspected and found to be working normally.

The woman goes on to say that when she asked Apple to be upgraded to a replacement iPhone 4S, the company furnished her with another iPhone 4.


Pictures of the alleged iPhone 4 combustion. (Note that images are flipped horizontally) | Source: Mashable


“I would have liked to have seen them say they understand this might not be something that affects everyone,” the Colorado woman said. “But, because it happened here, [they should] put up a precautionary statement to make people aware that if their battery becomes too hot to be wary.”




The alleged incident is reportedly the first of its kind in the U.S., though there has been at least one similar instance in Australia involving the iPhone 4.

This is not the first time Apple has seen problems with overheating batteries as it extended a replacement program for its first-generation iPod nano in 2011 due to a defect that caused the device's battery to overheat. The Cupertino, Calif., company first acknowledged the problem in a 2008 press release that stemmed from an investigation by the Japanese government.

There have been no reports of severe overheating issues with the iPhone 4S or any other products in Apple's current lineup.

[ View article on AppleInsider ]
post #2 of 68
Why she goes on a media campaign insisting Apple making a public statement of wrong doing - rather than just getting a free replacement iPhone - is a mystery to me.

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post #3 of 68
"Warning, your iPhone may explode while charging. Please charge responsibly and unplug it when it's done."
post #4 of 68
The current Apple disclaimer has this covered completely:

WARNING: Shit happens. Get over it. Consequences will never be the same.
"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
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"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
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post #5 of 68
Combustiongate....
post #6 of 68
I think one of two things may likely be the cause of this situation:

1. There was some sort of over-amp, or power surge, or uneven voltage at the charging site which caused too much electricity to be pumped into the device, resulting in battery failure. Also, possibly a faulty charger could have been the problem.

2. More likely -- the device had been previously dropped or sustained internal damage to the battery in the device, causing leakage or damaged components which failed when the device received electrical charge, causing the battery to combust. If the device had been dropped and received internal damage prior to this incident, it could have likely caused a failure in the charging mechanism(s) and/or battery which would cause fire. Such damage could involve damage to the internal power inverter, damage to the battery compartment, or damage to the Lithium Ion cells. Even a drop from a height onto a carpeted surface could cause internal damage which could cause leakage or result in failure on charging, or fire.
post #7 of 68
New Apple Product:

The award winning iPhone now comes in three colors: Black, White, and Charcoal.
"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
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"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
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post #8 of 68
Wasn't there an example of an iPhone model 4 caught fire on a plane and had to be extinguished. Not a common problem I would say but it is a good idea to keep an iPhone charging on a non flammable surface.
An Apple man since 1977
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An Apple man since 1977
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post #9 of 68
Sometimes people accidentally damage their devices by dropping them and although they still work the damage can contribute later to total failure of one kind or another. Since the failure did not happen right away they tend to disconnect the two events. Often situations like this are preceded by warning signs sometimes days before such, as a smell or unusually hot to the touch, rapid battery drain etc. If you experience odd unexplained battery issues with your device you should think about taking it in to the Apple Store for a check up because there is a lot of power stored in that battery which under certain circumstances could even cause bodily injury. One good reason why Apple did not want to make a user swappable battery.

Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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post #10 of 68
At least it was charging before it blew up, not always a given (the charging not the blowing up) as with the new iPad.
post #11 of 68
Is it possible that she might have had it plugged into a double-power iPad charger? Could that have done this, or would that have just charged it faster?
post #12 of 68
Millions upon millions of iPhone4 handsets have been sold all over the world, and ONE gets fried.
PRODUCT RECALL!!!

Jeez, a really slow day for AI.
post #13 of 68
I can't see her face and body so I don't know how to feel about this. I'd sympathize with her plight if she was young and hot, or milf-like. But if she's unattractive and/or overweight then this means nothing to me.
post #14 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by tylerk36 View Post

Wasn't there an example of an iPhone model 4 caught fire on a plane and had to be extinguished. Not a common problem I would say but it is a good idea to keep an iPhone charging on a non flammable surface.

Right. Two phones out of tens of millions.

Time to hit the panic switch and charge your iPhone 4 on a sheet of asbestos.
post #15 of 68
I'm calling bullsh*t. She's the only one ever to have this problem and then she wanted to be upgraded to a 4S.
post #16 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacVicta View Post

I can't see her face and body so I don't know how to feel about this. I'd sympathize with her plight if she was young and hot, or milf-like. But if she's unattractive and/or overweight then this means nothing to me.

Good one! I think she is over 50 years old and has a very nice standard of living. I considered the details of the home and the physical appearance of ear lobes and fingers to make that evaluation.

Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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post #17 of 68
Sounds like she was using a third party charger/cable. Some are awful with overheating.
post #18 of 68
First in the US, second in the world? I believe these are called isolated incidents. I might have a different opinion had she only asked for a simple, 1:1, replacement... but requesting the newer model and then turning to the media when she didn't get what she wanted??? Yeah... whatever
post #19 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by sticknick View Post

Right. Two phones out of tens of millions.

Time to hit the panic switch and charge your iPhone 4 on a sheet of asbestos.

I don't see anyone hitting the panic button.

Do you understand the difference between news and mass hysteria ?
post #20 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Macky the Macky View Post

The award winning iPhone now comes in three colors: Black, White, and Charcoal.

Like!

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post #21 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeeGee48 View Post

Is it possible that she might have had it plugged into a double-power iPad charger? Could that have done this, or would that have just charged it faster?

I regularly charge my IP4 with the 10W iPad charger. I don't believe that changes any of the voltage levels - it's just able to source more current if requested by the charging circuit.
post #22 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Macky the Macky View Post

New Apple Product:

The award winning iPhone now comes in three colors: Black, White, and Charcoal.



Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post

Millions upon millions of iPhone4 handsets have been sold all over the world, and ONE gets fried. PRODUCT RECALL!!! Jeez, a really slow day for AI.

Thirty seven million iPhone 4 units sold worldwide and we have an (alleged) single report of one combusting. Somebody call Mike Daisy so he can claim he saw a boat full of refugees sunk in the middle of a Chinese desert by the fire created by this phone.

I've corrected this article to more accurately reflect the probable truth:

"In what appears to be the first reported case of its kind on U.S. shores, a Colorado Samsung employee alleges that her iPhone 4 caught fire while charging overnight and wants Apple to warn off shareholders and customers of the device's possible combustion issues."
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There's nothing your wife/girlfriend/partner wouldn't like more than a 6 Plus...
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post #23 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

There have been no reports of severe overheating issues with the iPhone 4S or any other products in Apple's current lineup.

Then why is AI making a big deal out of this single report? Would an AI editor please answer this question?
post #24 of 68
Why didn't I think of putting my iPhone 4 in the microwave, posting pictures on Mashable and hoping to score a free upgrade to an iPhone 4S?

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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post #25 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Macky the Macky View Post

New Apple Product:

The award winning iPhone now comes in three colors: Black, White, and Charcoal.

Ah, but will it blend?
post #26 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacVicta View Post

I can't see her face and body so I don't know how to feel about this. I'd sympathize with her plight if she was young and hot, or milf-like. But if she's unattractive and/or overweight then this means nothing to me.

Ive read many comments here on AI and this is one of the best. I actually registered so I could commend you.
post #27 of 68
I actually don't find this so hard to believe. My wife's white iPhone 4 was having heating issues so much so that when it was plugged into the car (using the iPhone charger and a factory built in plug in the car) it got so hot it melted the aux cable that was running the music into the stereo to the point it was fused into the phone from the melted plastic on the cable.
post #28 of 68
It's VERY unlikely that charging the phone would cause it to heat up and sizzle like she claimed. I've had my phone under my sweater while it charges once and for only about 10 minutes because I wasn't in the car. I came back into the car with the phone displaying that it stopped charging due to the heat level. I then unplugged it, wait for 2 minutes and plugged it in. It charge to full by the time I arrive home. No overheat, no combustion or sizzle. Just an awesome phone that knows how to shut itself off when it's too hot to charge.
post #29 of 68
This is straight out of Charles Brockden Brown's Wieland, things spontaneously combusting!

Quick, someone get Consumer Reports on the case! And to think, their headline can be titled "iPhone 4s may combust spontaneously," based on a sample of one.
post #30 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Granmastak View Post

Sounds like she was using a third party charger/cable. Some are awful with overheating.

Sounds like someone didn't read the article.
post #31 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacVicta View Post

I can't see her face and body so I don't know how to feel about this. I'd sympathize with her plight if she was young and hot, or milf-like. But if she's unattractive and/or overweight then this means nothing to me.

By using my channeling skill via her ear loop, she's identified as a 59 year old Google HR secretary who frequents garage sales (where she bought her earrings) and 99 cents stores. She had a previous record of setting her house on fire by using an extension cord she bought from a 99 cents store to plug in her 220V stove. She's no Angelina Jolie and had tried many times unsuccessfully to get on as a contestant in the "Biggest Loser" show.
post #32 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by zeromeus View Post

It's VERY unlikely that charging the phone would cause it to heat up and sizzle like she claimed. I've had my phone under my sweater while it charges once and for only about 10 minutes because I wasn't in the car. I came back into the car with the phone displaying that it stopped charging due to the heat level. I then unplugged it, wait for 2 minutes and plugged it in. It charge to full by the time I arrive home. No overheat, no combustion or sizzle. Just an awesome phone that knows how to shut itself off when it's too hot to charge.

A fully functional iPhone will certainly protect itself against overheating. It does seem likely that this one was damaged somehow. Given the numbers sold and used with no problem, it doesn't seem likely to be a design issue.
post #33 of 68
I use lithium batteries for my quadcopter. The charging instructions say not to have anything combustible within 10 feet. Any lithium battery will start on fire if the case burst. This can be caused by overcharging, internal short or manufacturer defect. A proper charging system won't overcharge since it monitors the battery condition and reduces the charging current once it is charged. I don't know if the smarts are built into the charger or the iphone. My laptop has a dumb charger with the smarts built into the laptop.
post #34 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dunks View Post

Sounds like someone didn't read the article.

She might have used an Apple branded charger, but everything else she used might have come from the 99 cent store... like the cable or a case or even an extended battery that she might have plugged into the phone.

Any of those variables could have caused her phone to do what it did. Also... there are a lot of fake "Apple branded" products out there. China should be renamed as "PPP" for People's Pirate Paradise instead of of "PRC" for People's Republic of China.
post #35 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaun, UK View Post

I don't see anyone hitting the panic button.

Do you understand the difference between news and mass hysteria ?

You mean like iPad 3'overheating , antenna gate, ad nauseum?
post #36 of 68
Dear Aunty AI,

I picked my iPhone up this morning and it left a mark on the mirror where it has been leaning. The steam from the shower had been prevented from getting to the mirror and as I moved the phone the mark was John Lennon's face. I called the local paper and we are expecting a pilgrimage from Liverpool in a few weeks. I am sure this will go viral soon. Do you think it would be OK to profit from this amazing miracle?

Yours,

Sammy
From Apple ][ - to new Mac Pro I've used them all.
Long on AAPL so biased
Google Motto "You're not the customer. You're the product."
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From Apple ][ - to new Mac Pro I've used them all.
Long on AAPL so biased
Google Motto "You're not the customer. You're the product."
Reply
post #37 of 68
Millions upon millions have been sold, with complex parts sourced from all over. These things store a lot of energy, and with so many in existence, once in a while, its possible one will explode, or grow legs, or rise into the sky, or begin reciting Hamlet. Its just a matter of probability. I see no reason to doubt that this might happen, 1 time in 10 million, through no fault of the user. And if it does, that user certainly ought to get a replacement!
post #38 of 68
Troooooooooooollll!
post #39 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by nagromme View Post

Millions upon millions have been sold, with complex parts sourced from all over. These things store a lot of energy, and with so many in existence, once in a while, its possible one will explode, or grow legs, or rise into the sky, or begin reciting Hamlet. Its just a matter of probability. I see no reason to doubt that this might happen, 1 time in 10 million, through no fault of the user. And if it does, that user certainly ought to get a replacement!

Yes, the user deserved a replacement and a replacement she got. However, she wasn't satisfied with just getting a replacement because she wanted an upgraded version. When she didn't, she went to the media... Suspicious much? She doesn't deserve ANYTHING since her actions are highly suspicious... well, I take that back! She deserves prison time for fraud.
post #40 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Postulant View Post

Combustiongate....

No joke. There's been perhaps 100 incidents out of millions of units. But the media will make it sound like it is happening 100 times a day

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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