Florida man's AirPods reportedly 'blow up' during gym workout

Posted:
in General Discussion edited February 9
In what appears to be a rare catastrophic Apple hardware failure, a Tampa, Fla., man's AirPods "blew up" during a recent gym workout, prompting Apple to investigate the matter.




Jason Colon was listening to his AirPods at the local LA Fitness club in St. Petersburg when white smoke began to billow out from the right unit's chassis, reports NBC affiliate WFLA.

Colon promptly removed the AirPods, placed them on a nearby bench and went to get help. When he returned, the right AirPod had "popped" open, leaving pieces strewn across the workout equipment.

"It's the craziest thing I ever went through," Colon said. "It was already popped. I didn't see it happen, but I mean, it was already fried. You can see flame damage."

While details surrounding the event are scarce, the "flame damage" Colon describes is likely residue from -- or the after effects of -- a runaway chemical reaction originating in the device's battery cell.

Colon's description is consistent with a thermal runaway or similar event in which an electronic's batteries fail, overheat and damage nearby components. In the case of mobile devices, which pack a large number of parts into a tightly confined space, these incidents sometimes lead to case ruptures.

What caused the failure is at this point unknown, but Apple told the news organization that it is investigating the matter and will contact Colon in the near future.

Other manufacturers, namely Samsung, have dealt with similar problems in the recent past, but Apple products are typically not prone to such failures. Due to its mode of operation (in a user's ear), unstable AirPods pose a particularly nasty threat to users if the problem is widespread. Fortunately, Colon's experience seems to be an outlier, as no other AirPods owners have reported malfunctions of this magnitude since the product launched in 2016.

Apple has, however, been dealing with iPhone battery fires at its retail stores. In January, an iPhone explosion forced the evacuation of an Apple store in Zurich, while a second small blaze prompted the evacuation of another outlet in Spain.

Though the company has not commented, both of the affected iPhone units were in for repair, suggesting a correlation with Apple's recent decision to cut prices of out-of-warranty battery replacements. With more customers bringing in their old, potentially degraded, iPhones for service increases the odds of accidents. The possibility of failure is only increased when mixing in lithium-ion batteries.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 41
    ivanhivanh Posts: 176member
    Is there a Chief Customer Safety Officer (CCSO) in Apple?
  • Reply 2 of 41
    These are not workout headphones.
    So much excess sweat(which has salt) entering the headphones might have compromised it.
    Thats why I always keep my AirPods clean & dry.
    lollivernetmagewatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 3 of 41
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 3,914member
    These are not workout headphones.
    So much excess sweat(which has salt) entering the headphones might have compromised it.
    Thats why I always keep my AirPods clean & dry.
    True, but folk still use them for workouts. I think the guy’s exaggerating by saying they ‘blew up’, but it’s a good thing it wasn’t in his ear!


    edited February 9 racerhomie3lolliverjahbladeairnerdwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 4 of 41
    Shocking an allegedly catastrophic story about Apple the same day a new product is launching, that’s definitely never happened every time Apple has launched a new product.
    lolliverleehericksracerhomie3jahbladeSpamSandwichjony0
  • Reply 5 of 41
    These are not workout headphones.
    So much excess sweat(which has salt) entering the headphones might have compromised it.
    Thats why I always keep my AirPods clean & dry.
    When they came out people tested them with full water submerging. I doubt sweat will damage them.

    creek0512 said:
    Shocking an allegedly catastrophic story about Apple the same day a new product is launching, that’s definitely never happened every time Apple has launched a new product.
    Yes, the timing is suspicious. Can't wait for my HomePod.
    GeorgeBMacStrangeDayswatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 6 of 41
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 3,914member
    “It’s the craziest thing I ever went through,” Colon said. 
    Really? Must be a fairly young chap, or needs to get out more.

     Having said that, I’ve never been to Graceland.
    edited February 9 jarredkmmmatzGeorgeBMacrandominternetpersonwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 7 of 41
    These are not workout headphones.
    So much excess sweat(which has salt) entering the headphones might have compromised it.
    Thats why I always keep my AirPods clean & dry.
    Except that Apple depicts people doing acrobatic dancing with Airpods in. If they can't handle sweat, Apple should be clear about that up front. If they're supposed to handle sweat, he bought a defective pair and this should be resolved soon enough.

    As for people pushing conspiracy fantasies: go back to your 9/11 websites and leave Apple alone.
    airnerdGeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 41
    Rayz2016 said:
    True, but folk still use them for workouts. I think the guy’s exaggerating by saying they ‘blew up’, but it’s a good thing it wasn’t in his ear!
    It's Florida Man -- there wouldn't have been much to damage in that general vicinity if they had been. XD
    airnerdStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 41
    Well, damn...
  • Reply 10 of 41
    I suppose an iPhone was close by. Why not take a video of it? It's a tiny AirPod, where do you go to get help? Just get a dumbbell to cover it. 
    jahbladeGeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 41
    These are not workout headphones.
    So much excess sweat(which has salt) entering the headphones might have compromised it.
    Thats why I always keep my AirPods clean & dry.
    When they came out people tested them with full water submerging. I doubt sweat will damage them.

    creek0512 said:
    Shocking an allegedly catastrophic story about Apple the same day a new product is launching, that’s definitely never happened every time Apple has launched a new product.
    Yes, the timing is suspicious. Can't wait for my HomePod.
    Sweat contains salt. This is much more corrosive than fresh water. 
    Same goes for iPhone 7 & Apple Watch.
    Salt water, sweat & steam are quite dangerous things for even water resistant electronics.
    Thats why I hate these unrealistic tests.Normal wear & tear is different than some random tests.
    edited February 9 deepinsider
  • Reply 12 of 41
    Water resistance usually just protects your device from rain.
  • Reply 13 of 41
    adm1adm1 Posts: 866member
    getvoxoa said:
    I suppose an iPhone was close by. Why not take a video of it? It's a tiny AirPod, where do you go to get help? Just get a dumbbell to cover it. 
    Possibly inside a locker somewhere. When people panic, they often do not do the things that in hindsight are obvious. I dare say when it happened, he ran to get help for himself in case his ear was damaged? What happened to the Airpod was likely an afterthought.
    muthuk_vanalingambeowulfschmidt
  • Reply 14 of 41
    Why Florida
  • Reply 15 of 41
    Love my AirPods. I've been using them for quite some time now...but I value my ears more. Guess I'll stop using them Lol. NOT REALLY!
    GeorgeBMacracerhomie3watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 41
    Luckily Mr. Colon didn’t have his AirPods in his colon.
    randominternetpersonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 41
    adm1 said:
    getvoxoa said:
    I suppose an iPhone was close by. Why not take a video of it? It's a tiny AirPod, where do you go to get help? Just get a dumbbell to cover it. 
    Possibly inside a locker somewhere. When people panic, they often do not do the things that in hindsight are obvious. I dare say when it happened, he ran to get help for himself in case his ear was damaged? What happened to the Airpod was likely an afterthought.

    What you said.  I interpreted "went to get help" to mean he went to find somebody to look at his ear to make sure it was OK.
  • Reply 18 of 41
    airnerdairnerd Posts: 532member
    Seems totally plausible.  They have a battery, could easily be damaged (even accidentally if they get bent or pinched) and that could lead to failure.  How many has Apple sold?  How many reports do we have of this?  It's statistically insignificant at this point and I hope people don't runaway with this as a systemic problem, because that hasn't been shown yet.
    JFC_PAwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 19 of 41
    I'm not overly concerned, but the thought of having tiny bombs sitting right below my ear canals has crossed my mind on more than one occasion.

    On a somewhat related note, my brother inadvertently sent his AirPods through the washer and dryer recently. The charging case and one AirPod survived. The other AirPod is alive, but mute.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 41
    If this is the craziest thing this guy ever went through, he's got a great life. And I agree with other's comments that these should not be worn for heavy workouts with salty sweat in a factor, but doesn't Apple show people wearing these while being active, like dancing, scare boarding, etc. Not that one breaks out in a sweat from skateboarding, but I don't know either way.
    watto_cobra
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