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Chinese man allegedly electrocuted by iPhone 4 and third-party adapter

post #1 of 87
Thread Starter 
For the second time this week, a report from China links Apple's iPhone to an accidental electrocution, with the latest incident involving a 30-year-old man who has been comatose for over ten days.

Adapter


The Beijing Evening News reported Thursday that Wu Jian Tong was "suddenly shocked" while plugging in an iPhone 4 connected to a supposedly "counterfeit" or third-party charger.

According to a translation of the report provided by ZDNet, Wu shouted "I'm getting shocked" as he connected his iPhone 4 to the allegedly counterfeit adapter. Wu's sister, who relayed the story to reporters, said she tried to unplug the device.

"I then felt needle-like pains on my fingertips," she said. "The current was running from my finger, through to my arm and body, and to the foot."

When the emergency medical team arrived on scene, Wu was not breathing and required CPR. Rushed to a nearby hospital, Wu was stabilized by doctors, but he remains in a coma as a result of the severe deprivation of oxygen to his brain.

"It was no doubt an electric shock," Wu's doctor said.

Wu's reported incident pre-dates the death of a Chinese woman allegedly electrocuted in a similar manner. A follow-up to that story from CCTV claims the device in question was actually an iPhone 4, not an iPhone 5 as originally reported, and that a non-Apple adapter was also involved.

In response to the woman's death, which is still under investigation, Apple on Monday promised to "fully investigate and cooperate with authorities in [the] matter." The company has yet to issue a statement regarding Wu's alleged electrocution.
post #2 of 87
I wonder if it was the same brand of adaptor as the woman had? There might be a whole batch that needs recalling.
post #3 of 87
Apple cannot stop the Cheap crap that goes to market that people buy that is not an authorized product of Apple. If you don't want to be shocked or electrocuted buy genuine Apple products that have been fully qualified by the URL listings to comply with safety. If you buy crap you get crap, it's that simple.
There are a lot of other factors involved here to like what shape are the outlets in the home like? Condition of the wiring in the home and so on. Are they using some kind of transformer as well. If any of these are bad or in poor condition they to can lead to electrocution or shock.
But an unauthorized wanna be product is the worse offender of all. Not made or approved by Apple. Not quality tested or built to the URL standards for electric safety.
post #4 of 87
It's interesting that this dominantly seem to happen in China.
post #5 of 87
This was covered by Watchdog on the BBC in UK some months ago. 9 year old girl was among those electrocuted by knocked-off 'apple' chargers. When examined by an expert they were found to basically be inherently lethal - essentially just connected the live current directly to the USB cable thus putting full mains voltage into the phone! Trading Standards confiscated the entire shipment from all shops selling them but warned that there could be any number of illegal copies just as dangerous. Needless to say, they were all Chinese fakes...
post #6 of 87
How is this Apple's fault when both people who got shocked used third party ac adapters? And when you get such strong shock, how the hell can the guy utter any words to his sister? I got shocked once on 110V for a few seconds, I could not speak or yell, my jaw closed tightly as the current travelled through my body. Same thing happens when someone is tased. This story sounds improbable and an anti-Apple propaganda from China. I don't deny people got hurt by these bad ac adapters, they should definitely be taken out of circulation.
post #7 of 87
Well, if you try to save a buck by buying some off brand device, then beware. You can't sue Apple if that happens.
post #8 of 87

I live in Sweden an the last few days all the big national newspapers have jumped on the bandwagon and are now reporting people getting burnt or electrocuted by their iPhones. Today there was a frontpage article about a girl that had slept *on* her iPhone 5 and was *chocked* to learn that she mobile finally got very hot and she claimed to have been burnt by it.

 

I'm sure this is not over yet. I am also equally sure that we are not going to read any stories about competing brands smartphones burning up or electrocuting people even though we *know* that is happening to $50 Android Smartphones as we speak...

 

It's the pre-AAPL report period after all...

post #9 of 87
Very odd. I got lightly shocked by 220V once and certainly didn't feel like talking then. In fact, it's physically impossible. I smell FUD.
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post #10 of 87

BTW. I forgot:

 

Countdown to class-action lawsuit in 3...2....1

post #11 of 87
Chinese man allegedly electrocuted by third-party adapter
TFTFY, AI

c'mon, it had nothing to do with Apple
Holy crap, you call this journalism ! What a joke.
Kasper, dude. Really ?
jeez
Edited by RobM - 7/19/13 at 1:33am
post #12 of 87
Are there any reports of electrocutions occurring with any other phones? This cannot be just an Apple-only problem, can it? If no, why are we not reading about those occurrences? If yes, why now and not sooner? The non-Apple adapters have been on sale for years and only in the last ten days (approximately) we read about two electrocutions with the iPhone 4. The iPhones 3GS and 4S and iPads 2 and 3 are all being sold and all can use the same 30-pin adapter. What is making the iPhone 4 so problematic? In closing, there were multiple articles on this and other sites with leading headlines stating how the Thunderbolt adapter technology had been permanently cracked by Chinese companies, should we be preparing to read about electrocutions with the iPhone 5 and iPads Mini and 4? I cannot believe no other phone being sold in China is having this type of horrific problem!

Updated....
I mixed Thunderbolt with Lightning above. Here is the AppleInsider link to the article I had referenced.
http://appleinsider.com/articles/12/10/09/apples-lightning-authentication-chip-may-have-been-reverse-engineered

As I read the article and related comments with recent events in mind, I wondered what the manufacturer was thinking now about its actions. And, some of the comments against Apple in support of the manufacturer made me want to copy and paste them here and ask the commenters to stand next to their remarks today.
Edited by leavingthebigG - 7/19/13 at 2:56am
post #13 of 87
I was at the flagship Apple store 5th Ave a few weeks ago, and when I was leaving, I saw a vendor right outside the store, on the corner of the block, set up with a cart, selling a whole bunch of cheap accessories for Apple's products. They weren't original Apple made I presume, but I'm not sure if they were illegal knockoffs, as I didn't examine further. I found that to be pretty funny.

As for these Chinese electrocutions, maybe they have bad infrastructure in China or something, with crappy wiring in some houses and apartments, that wouldn't surprise me. And if you combine that with dangerous knockoff chargers, well, that can maybe be deadly. Anyway, this case is not Apple's fault at all, as we know that a knockoff charger was involved. Sometimes trying to save a buck or two isn't always the smartest thing to do.
post #14 of 87

i am definitely suspect of this story. if you are being shocked to the level that puts you in a coma, there is very little chance you have the time to say what is happening to you.

 

Even with a quick 220v zap, you barely get a chance to say Ow. Trust me.

 

This sounds like a scene from something like 'Home Alone' ... bzzzzzzz .. "Help!! Iiiiiii'mmmmm beeeeeiiiinnngggg eeelllleeeccctrroooccuuuttteeeddd" bzzzzz

With hilarious consequences....

 

or maybe its real and i'm being really insensitive... 

 

hmmm daddy or chips?

post #15 of 87

While the original Apple charger has good security measures, and follows all regulations, I dislike the concept of these chargers. With the traditional linear adaptors, I never had any notice of a PSU outputting high voltage, and I've been using electronics since the 80s. This idea of having a tiny item is cool, but the idea of having 340V DC inside it isn't so cool, no matter how many security measures are there. I'd prefer a traditional linear PSU rather than this coolness.

post #16 of 87
Quote:
For the second time this week, a report from China links Apple's iPhone to an accidental electrocution, with the latest incident involving a 30-year-old man who has been comatose for over ten days.

Oh for the love of Pete—here we go.

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by RobM View Post

Chinese man allegedly electrocuted by third-party adapter
TFTFY, AI

c'mon, it had nothing to do with Apple
Holy crap, you call this journalism ! What a joke.
Kasper, dude. Really ?
jeez

Agreed.

post #17 of 87
This all sounds so familiar... wait a minute... this is just like the downfall of Steve Martin's Optigrab from the movie, The Jerk
post #18 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by seanie248 View Post
hmmm daddy or chips?

That quote will pass many by here, but it did make me laugh.

post #19 of 87
Dont buy 3rd party chinese knock off crap
post #20 of 87
This will work in Apple's favor when they limit accessories to be only those certified by Apple. iOS7 already warns when one is plugged in. That is one step from preventing use of them.
post #21 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by realwarder View Post

This will work in Apple's favor when they limit accessories to be only those certified by Apple. iOS7 already warns when one is plugged in. That is one step from preventing use of them.

You haven't been around long, have you?

It's hard to imagine how you could block a charger from supplying current, but even if Apple were to do that (completely block third party devices), the media would be all over Apple for having a closed ecosystem and claim that Android is so superior because you can use any charger you wish. Everyone will forget all about the consequences (including bad PR for Apple and injured people) of third party crap floating around and will claim that Apple is evil and greedy.
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
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"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
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post #22 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


You haven't been around long, have you?

It's hard to imagine how you could block a charger from supplying current, but even if Apple were to do that (completely block third party devices), the media would be all over Apple for having a closed ecosystem and claim that Android is so superior because you can use any charger you wish. Everyone will forget all about the consequences (including bad PR for Apple and injured people) of third party crap floating around and will claim that Apple is evil and greedy.

The whole purpose of brands is so you can know who you can trust. When these (presumably) no-name devices start killing people (how horrible) people will spend the extra $5 to get a charger (or whatever else) with a trusted name (i.e. Apple).

post #23 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by ecs View Post

While the original Apple charger has good security measures, and follows all regulations, I dislike the concept of these chargers. With the traditional linear adaptors, I never had any notice of a PSU outputting high voltage, and I've been using electronics since the 80s. This idea of having a tiny item is cool, but the idea of having 340V DC inside it isn't so cool, no matter how many security measures are there. I'd prefer a traditional linear PSU rather than this coolness.

There have been a couple of professional teardowns of real Apple chargers, the experts who did them were very impressed by the quality and the dedication to isolation and standards in the design of the devices. I can't personally recall the last time I heard of a genuine Apple charger malfunctioning in a way as to expose the user to mains power, they may have exhibited other failure modes, but not of the lethal type. 

 

It may be a problem of course that if people try to copy these very small, but insanely well-designed power supplies, they find it impossible or uneconomic to do it properly, but want to copy the form factor, then you can end up with something deadly. 

 

I'm happy Apple is looking into this seriously, even if it wasn't one of their power adapters. I reserve any judgement on what actually happened, the story has moved from iPhone5 to iPhone4, from Apple supply not not and whether or not the poor lady was or was not in the bathroom is pure speculation at this point. The truth always takes a while to come out.  

post #24 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

The whole purpose of brands is so you can know who you can trust. When these (presumably) no-name devices start killing people (how horrible) people will spend the extra $5 to get a charger (or whatever else) with a trusted name (i.e. Apple).

Maybe, maybe not. People buy cheap tires for their cars. People buy cheap brake pads. People buy untested, uncertified drugs from third world countries. There are lot of people who can't (or won't) buy a premium product.

None of which addresses my comment. Apple loses no matter what happens. If a third party iPhone charger fails, Apple gets the blame - at least tangentially. If Apple blocks all third party devices, the media would be all over them for being closed and greedy.
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
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"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
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post #25 of 87
Made in China. Nothing else to say here. Move along.
post #26 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by ecs View Post

While the original Apple charger has good security measures, and follows all regulations, I dislike the concept of these chargers. With the traditional linear adaptors, I never had any notice of a PSU outputting high voltage, and I've been using electronics since the 80s. This idea of having a tiny item is cool, but the idea of having 340V DC inside it isn't so cool, no matter how many security measures are there. I'd prefer a traditional linear PSU rather than this coolness.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rols View Post

There have been a couple of professional teardowns of real Apple chargers, the experts who did them were very impressed by the quality and the dedication to isolation and standards in the design of the devices. I can't personally recall the last time I heard of a genuine Apple charger malfunctioning in a way as to expose the user to mains power, they may have exhibited other failure modes, but not of the lethal type. 

 

It may be a problem of course that if people try to copy these very small, but insanely well-designed power supplies, they find it impossible or uneconomic to do it properly, but want to copy the form factor, then you can end up with something deadly. 

 

I'm happy Apple is looking into this seriously, even if it wasn't one of their power adapters. I reserve any judgement on what actually happened, the story has moved from iPhone5 to iPhone4, from Apple supply not not and whether or not the poor lady was or was not in the bathroom is pure speculation at this point. The truth always takes a while to come out.  

 

Here is a very good teardown of the Apple charger: 

http://www.righto.com/2012/05/apple-iphone-charger-teardown-quality.html

 

You see how complex this thing is and how little margin of error there is to isolate the high voltage circuit from the low voltage side. 

post #27 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by Krawall View Post

It's interesting that this dominantly seem to happen in China.

China is the land of the cheap knock off accessories so its not that odd

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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post #28 of 87
Don't want to diminish the significance of this man's coma, but you do understand that "electrocute" means "killed by electric shock," right?
post #29 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by Krawall View Post

It's interesting that this dominantly seem to happen in China.

 

Easier access to crap chargers that have not passed the strict safety testing required in other countries? There is a reason for certified safety labs like UL. Plugging random stuff into the mains can be dangerous, particularly when bathing.

post #30 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by b9bot View Post

Apple cannot stop the Cheap crap that goes to market that people buy that is not an authorized product of Apple.

There is a little line in the sand, though. As a simple example, I have hard-wired USB chargers (the combination outlet/dual USB ports that take the place of a standard duplex receptacle) in my home. These units need to be installed in accordance with the electrical codes (GFCI in wet locations, AFCI in bedrooms, grounding where required, etc.), and they should (by their UL label) be safe to use as class-2 power-limited power supplies. If there was a 120V potential under any circumstances between one of the power-limited conductors and the USB shield, or the ground pin of the receptacle, that is a fault of the equipment.

Likewise, a fault in the cable provides some wiggle room. Since it is a power-limited circuit it should not be capable of starting a fire or causing electrocution.

The problem comes when the consumer equipment (such as the iPhone) expects something other than a standard-compliant USB-charging port. Some assumptions may not be reasonable, especially when you have a metal piece of utilization equipment.
post #31 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by aaarrrgggh View Post

The problem comes when the consumer equipment (such as the iPhone) expects something other than a standard-compliant USB-charging port. Some assumptions may not be reasonable, especially when you have a metal piece of utilization equipment.

 

I think no low voltage DC based equipment ever expects to being feed with AC line level voltage without any prejudice. 

post #32 of 87

Even in a land without safety codes I would try to make the safest product possible, I would be devastated if something I made killed someone! 

The people making these chargers must be incredibly irresponsible and should be shut down asap.

post #33 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

None of which addresses my comment. Apple loses no matter what happens. If a third party iPhone charger fails, Apple gets the blame - at least tangentially. If Apple blocks all third party devices, the media would be all over them for being closed and greedy.

I agree but Apple don't help themselves here. Even with the quality design and components that Apple use, an iPhone charger is still only costing them a few pence to manufacture. Instead of adding 1000%+ markup just make a decent 100%, give the retailer 100% and sell it for £5, not the current £15 that they want to charge. That would massively reduce the number of people willing to take a chance on a third party product.

post #34 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

Even in a land without safety codes I would try to make the safest product possible, I would be devastated if something I made killed someone! 
The people making these chargers must be incredibly irresponsible and should be shut down asap.

Maybe you would, but there are many who obviously do not care at all, as long as they can make a buck. And those kinds of people are not just found in China, but everywhere.
post #35 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by ScartArt View Post

I agree but Apple don't help themselves here. Even with the quality design and components that Apple use, an iPhone charger is still only costing them a few pence to manufacture. Instead of adding 1000%+ markup just make a decent 100%, give the retailer 100% and sell it for £5, not the current £15 that they want to charge. That would massively reduce the number of people willing to take a chance on a third party product.

 

This is a baseless claim, sure Apple made profit of their accessories, but you got no clue of the actual manufacturing cost of these things. The IC controller alone in those charge cost around $2.50. 

post #36 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

For the second time this week, a report from China links Apple's iPhone to an accidental electrocution, with the latest incident involving a 30-year-old man who has been comatose for over ten days.

The Beijing Evening News reported Thursday that Wu Jian Tong was "suddenly shocked" while plugging in an iPhone 4 connected to a supposedly "counterfeit" or third-party charger.

 

You know maybe Apple should warn people about this stuff.... Oh, right.... I guess I should fall in line.

 

HOW DARE Apple even think of such thing. Infact, i'm insulted and outraged that I get any message at all. Androids are so much better that this never happens with them. Steve Jobs wouldn't let this happen! Or would he... It doesn't matter, because this would happen if they just used Mini USB!

post #37 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by ScartArt View Post

I agree but Apple don't help themselves here. Even with the quality design and components that Apple use, an iPhone charger is still only costing them a few pence to manufacture. Instead of adding 1000%+ markup just make a decent 100%, give the retailer 100% and sell it for £5, not the current £15 that they want to charge. That would massively reduce the number of people willing to take a chance on a third party product.

 

Really? $19 for a charger (that costs a LOT more than a few pence to manufacture) causes people to endanger themselves to the point of death?

 

The lengths some people go to blame Apple for things boggles my mind.

post #38 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigMac2 View Post

 

This is a baseless claim, sure Apple made profit of their accessories, but you got no clue of the actual manufacturing cost of these things. The IC controller alone in those charge cost around $2.50. 

Talk about baseless. Where is your proof that the controller chip costs Apple $2.50?

 

The fact that you can purchase genuine Samsung usb chargers for under £5, with Samsung, distributor, retailer and government all taking their cut shows that COGS costs are not high. Tear down and testing done actually show the Samsung charger is as good, if not better, than the Apple one.

post #39 of 87
Hey, here's an idea... how about instead of saving a buck, you buy an actual, quality iPhone cable from Apple and avoid the costly hospital stay. Eh?
post #40 of 87

If the custom iPhone charger I made out of paperclips zaps me, you can be damn sure my estate will be suing Apple for not having some kind of magic safeguard in place.

“What would I do? I’d shut Apple down and give the money back to the shareholders”

Michael Dell - 1997

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“What would I do? I’d shut Apple down and give the money back to the shareholders”

Michael Dell - 1997

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