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Bug Handhelds Apple

Apple Faces Inquiries In the EU On iPhone Accidents 174

Posted by kdawson
from the or-are-you-just-glad-to-see-me dept.
o'reor writes "As more cases of iPhone screen explosions emerge in the news on this side of the pond, Apple is now facing official inquiries and lawsuits in France. This situation has forced Apple finally to break silence and acknowledge the incidents: 'We are aware of these reports and we are waiting to receive the iPhones from the customers. Until we have the full details, we don't have anything further to add.' Following those reports, the European Commission had already decided last week to step in, while Apple tried to dismiss the problem as 'isolated incidents.' Meanwhile, iPhone explosion-related sites are now popping up on the Internet, releasing games such as iPop to chill out and relax on the subject, but also giving users advice on preventing iPhone accidents, or detecting imminent explosions."
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Apple Faces Inquiries In the EU On iPhone Accidents

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  • by Pezistential (1444245) on Friday August 28, 2009 @01:05PM (#29232833)
    iExplode
  • Really? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by maxume (22995) on Friday August 28, 2009 @01:06PM (#29232843)

    Was it really necessary to link to the iPop advertisements 3 times?

    • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ColdWetDog (752185) on Friday August 28, 2009 @01:11PM (#29232921) Homepage
      Sure. More revenue. What are you, new here?

      Come on Slashdot. This is pretty lame. No wireless even. Not funny even.

      FTFA:

      * 4. Listen to your iPhone and get to know when the iPhone is about is explode in you hand on [sic] in the pocket. When you feel this is the time, the best thing to do is to throw it away and let the iPhone explode far from you. Later on, please collect all the pieces.

      If you're going to make a goof ball web site, at least proof read your text. Even the Time Cube guy does that....

      Lame.

      • by omnichad (1198475)

        That's not a lack of proofreading. It's being nearly illiterate in your second or third language.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by IorDMUX (870522)
      I followed the link on "detecting imminent explosions", hoping to gain some insight about Li-Ion batteries or at least see some amusing stories about unusual system behavior shortly before an explosion. Instead, I found some of the most useless advice since I contacted Dell's tech support about a RAM issue.

      The following are verbatim quotes from the page, taken from a section about 'steps you can take to be safer':

      If the iPhone is getting hotter, if its start to make noises, raise smoke or shake un normally, it's a sign something is about to happen.

      Or even worse...

      Listen to your iPhone and get to know when the iPhone is about is explode in you hand on in the pocket. When you feel this is the time, the best thing to do is to throw it away and let the iPhone explode far from you. Later on, please collect all the pieces.

      So... their advice on determining if your iPhone is at risk of explosion boil

    • by eulernet (1132389)

      Was it really necessary to link to the iPop advertisements 3 times?

      Isn't that the sound of an iPhone when it explodes ?

  • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Friday August 28, 2009 @01:08PM (#29232883) Journal

    Are the cause I hear. Lots of devices use these kinds of batteries, simply because they are easily rechargable. It's said that if one gets too hot, and is under a certain amount of pressure on the inside, the battery can explode. I didn't RTFA I'm sure its mentioned somewhere in there. Things that use L I batteries have exploded before in the past, it's just become common that everyone owns either an iPod or an iPhone, so when 13 or more stories arise of exploding Apple devices people take notice.

    But, like the summary says, Apple hasn't received the broken equipment yet, so the battery is not the CONFIRMED cause of the explosion.

    Anyone want to take a bet?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 28, 2009 @01:22PM (#29233077)

      http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5icQWJ2mlc--irCjF-iJMQTGfcIIQ [google.com]

      Apple is claiming that the screens were broken due to an external force according to their initial investigations.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Now THAT -IS- interesting.

        I mean, it appears to me as though Apple found a couple of cases where it wasn't the battery and they're trying to promote the idea that their product is safe before admitting that there is a defect.

        Don't get me wrong, I'm sure the batteries went through alot of QA before they were shipped, and they were much safer then previous batteries used. But its still the same technology, and there will be rare cases where users will put strain on their devices that weren't tested. And by th

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Now THAT -IS- interesting.

          I mean, it appears to me as though Apple found a couple of cases where it wasn't the battery and they're trying to promote the idea that their product is safe before admitting that there is a defect.

          Don't get me wrong, I'm sure the batteries went through alot of QA before they were shipped, and they were much safer then previous batteries used.

          Why are you assuming that this has anything to do with the battery being defective? How do we know that this was not caused by either the backlight exploding directly from pressure or from the backlight exploding and causing damage to the lithium battery which then exploded?

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            Battery or not - its defective if its not the user applying too much pressure. Point is that Apple is denying that its their fault.

            I just wagered it was the battery because those have been the cause for exploding mini devices in the past.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by SBrach (1073190)
              Yeah, because a cell phone that explodes under too much pressure is the fault of the owner. It's not like these things ever get sat on or dropped. Exploding is a perfectly reasonable failure mode for these rare, 1-in-a-brazillion scenarios.
        • and they were much safer then previous batteries used. What? exactly what did these previous batteries use?
        • But there are also plenty of assholes who will moan that it blew up on them when they really just busted it by accident and want it covered. There may be legit instances of iPhone batteries (which are lithium polymer, which means they don't swell) causing damage, but it seems that a lot of assholes are jumping on the gravy train and hoping to publicly shame Apple into giving them a new iPhone.
      • by dbcad7 (771464)
        And so they can't understand why people would not send them the exploded devices to confirm that all cases are from external forces.
      • by reub2000 (705806)
        It should be reasonable to expect a device meant to be portable to be subjected to external forces.
    • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Friday August 28, 2009 @01:30PM (#29233183) Journal

      >>>they are easily rechargable.

      Not true. LiIon batteries are extremely difficult to recharge and are in fact the most-complex battery ever made for home use. But the reason companies put-up with them is because they can hold the same amount of charge as a NiCad or NiMH battery, but in 1/4 or 1/2 the space, respectively. Obviously saving space is important for phones and laptops.

      Now contrast that with hybrid cars which almost-universally use the NiMH battery. Since space is no great concern, but safety is, they use the more-stable battery. NiMH also has the advantage of surviving the ~20 years that cars typically last, and also being environmentally neutral.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Well. Yes. I didn't mean "Easy" as in we've mastered it, I meant it as in, since they're so small, I don't need an Alternator the size of a head to recharge it. My mistake for poor word usage. Should've said because of their size AND the ability to be recharged.

        • Alternator? No no. We're not discussing cars here. They use AC-to-DC converters, and the power load on this device would be essentially the same regardless of what battery type you used (1000mAh LiIon, 1000mAh NiMH, or 1000mAh NiCd).

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      >>>>>>>>>>>>>>Things that use L I batteries have exploded before in the past, it's just become common that everyone owns either an iPod or an iPhone, so when 13 or more stories arise of exploding Apple devices people take notice.

      I'm not sure this is a correct assumption. Surely laptops and netbooks and hundreds of other models of phones all run on the same kind of Li+ battery, but only these ones are the ones that are exploding (or at least the ones that are rep
      • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Friday August 28, 2009 @01:46PM (#29233421) Journal

        I worked at Laptop shop with in-house technical support.

        Guess what two pieces AREN'T covered for in the Warranty? Battery and power supply. Even the Manufacturers warranty for the battery is shorter than the manufacturers warranty for the laptop. This is simply because they are succeptable to ALOT of failure. Now the great thing about laptop batteries is that they are usually completely encased in plastic, and if one "explodes" - its pretty difficult to tell. These explosions aren't like the ones you see on TV, they're small, probably no bigger than your thumbnail.

        You see how slim the Apple Devices are? That pinhead explosion is enough to break the screen, just because the battery is RIGHT next to the screen.

        • by mpe (36238) on Friday August 28, 2009 @02:30PM (#29234085)
          .Guess what two pieces AREN'T covered for in the Warranty? Battery and power supply. Even the Manufacturers warranty for the battery is shorter than the manufacturers warranty for the laptop. This is simply because they are succeptable to ALOT of failure. Now the great thing about laptop batteries is that they are usually completely encased in plastic, and if one "explodes" - its pretty difficult to tell

          Also the battery in a typical laptop (even a typical phone) is an easily replacable part. Which isn't the case with the Apple devices.
        • Slim? iPod Touch maye, but the iPhone G3 is exactly as thick as my HTC Touch HD which has got an interchangeable battery and a detachable back cover and there is another plastic cover and the mainboard between the battery and the screen.

        • by AmiMoJo (196126)

          I have seen a few exploded batteries at work. Nasty stuff tends to seep out.

          Also, LiIon batteries loose their capacity over time, and that loss is accelerated by heat. One of the best ways to preserve your laptop battery is to remove it and store it in a cool, dark place when not in use. If you run your laptop off the mains with the battery in, you are just heating the battery up and reducing it's lifespan.

          Unfortunately most phones don't let you do that, but at least you can just get a third-party or even g

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Aphoxema (1088507) *

      Who in their right mind would send the murder weapon to the murderer, first class?

      It's not the best analogy, but the fact is these people can not trust Apple with the evidence, it might get "lost", and no matter what Apple says the problem is they sure as hell aren't sending back the unit.

    • They're Lithium Polymer to be more specific, and they don't explode. They can balloon up (which is probably what caused screens to break), then they can rupture and vent flames until all the combustible material is gone. Dangerous and spectacular, but not an explosion. They're not used because they are easy to recharge. In fact, they require more care as they can't be charge or discharged as quickly as other batteries and also risk ballooning up and catching fire if they exceed the limits. They're used beca

  • Clearly (Score:5, Funny)

    by VoiceInTheDesert (1613565) on Friday August 28, 2009 @01:09PM (#29232899)
    This is all lies and slander. Don't you guys watch Mac adds? They don't HAVE any issues. They work all the time and never glitch up, much less explode! Psh to all this microsoft propaganda.
  • by alen (225700) on Friday August 28, 2009 @01:11PM (#29232919)

    my 3GS tends to heat up a lot more than my blackberry. when i use the cell phone app i can feel the back getting warm

    • by sexconker (1179573) on Friday August 28, 2009 @01:44PM (#29233401)

      The cell phone app?
      You mean, when you use the FUCKING PHONE as a FUCKING PHONE?

      On a side note, I think I need a new phone.
      Mine is starting to get hot whenever I make calls. Never used to before.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by ColdWetDog (752185)

        Mine is starting to get hot whenever I make calls. Never used to before.

        You might want to cut down on those 900 numbers. I'll bet your phone cools off after that.

      • by alen (225700)

        i use my phone as a phone maybe 45 minutes a month. i'm on a 700 minute family plan with 3 other phones. but last month i used around 2GB of data. my in-laws with their cheapo samsung flip phones use up most of the minutes

      • The cell phone app?
        You mean, when you use the FUCKING PHONE as a FUCKING PHONE?

        Every phone uses an application to be a 'phone'. This has been true for years.

        One day, when it's not so fashionable to bitch about the iPhone, you'll slap your forehead and go "oh, damn, I guess the iPhone wasn't the first phone to use software that runs on an operating system."

  • by fimchick (1448001) on Friday August 28, 2009 @01:11PM (#29232931)

    If your iPhone explodes and kills you, do you go to Apple Hell where everything runs on Windows?

  • Obviously this strategic move by Apple to created a 7 in one device (phone, email, text, game platform, camera, photo album, grenade) and MS can't handle it.

  • by bzzfzz (1542813) on Friday August 28, 2009 @01:20PM (#29233051)
    Something to keep you entertained [youtube.com] until we get actual video of exploding devices.

    It is difficult to imagine that an explosion could be caused by any other components in the device. The battery is supposed to be double fused which limits the amount of power to other components, but if there is a failure within the battery itself, the results can be dramatic.

    • by v1 (525388)

      batteries of this type typically have a fuse inside the pack, between two cells, so that in case the pack is shorted right at the contacts as they come out of the battery, that fuse will still go. Then there's sometimes another fuse inline with the leads or where one of the leads emerges from the pack. Manufacturers sometimes skip that one. But most products also have a microfuse on the board in series with the battery power which is why they can call it double-fused. One in the battery, and one on the

    • by geekoid (135745)

      If they blew like they did in the viseo, there would ahve been alot more damage.
      The pictures I saw of them only have some broken glass.

      Maybe the screen isn't mounted properly and tension applied just right causes it? Or maybe people are damaging them and trying to get a new unit?

      I ahve no idea which, or either it is.

      here is a picture of one of them, and that doesn't look like the results of an exploding battery:
      http://iphoneoverdose.com/2009/another-story-of-an-overheating-iphone/ [iphoneoverdose.com]

  • Don't Panic (Score:5, Funny)

    by Drakkenmensch (1255800) on Friday August 28, 2009 @01:21PM (#29233057)
    I'm typing this on my iPhone right now, and everything is just fi
  • No "incidents" caused by overuse of the "vibrate" feature?
  • FTA:

    if its start to make noises, raise smoke or shake un normally, itâ(TM)s a sign something is about to happen.

    Are we talking iPhone, or Mt. St. Helens?
    Seriously, I would like to think that there would be some way to overload protect things to prevent this. I know lithium batteries are special, but why can't there be some element that opens up to prevent the phaser on overload scenario?

    • I liked that bit too, because it suggests that there are kids out there who DON'T realize that if their phone is smoking, that's a bad sign.

  • suspicious (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TRRosen (720617) on Friday August 28, 2009 @01:35PM (#29233275)

    these latest reports sound just a bit funny to me. I know the iPod is built well but I just don't see the screen breaking before the back deforms. Remember these batteries don't explode they expand and then off gas flames. The description of the events just don't match what you would expect from a battery of this type failing in this device.
    the first one in britain - yes
    1 device is damaged by a drop
    2 device begins to overheat
    3 device shoots short burst of flames
    this is how you would expect this device to fail.
    But the last couple -- It just went pop and the screen shattered -- strange indeed, especially since the second seemed like he was reading the account of the first one line by line rather then telling something that happened to him.

    • by Stevecrox (962208)
      Or it could simply be the battery and lcd panel are far to close together and when the battery starts over heating the heat transferred is enough to begin warping the LCD case unit something cracks.

      The few photo's I've seen of the iPhone battery problem suggest the battery's getting close to if not well over 70 degrees celcius. Thats only a guess based on a limited knowledge of how hot you have to get something before plastic starts de-clolouring. I doubt the LCD panel was designed to take anything close
      • by TRRosen (720617)

        No one has mentioned the LCDs melting, Just the screens breaking. And it seems to me that we would see deformation of the case well before the glass would shatter.

  • by zogger (617870) on Friday August 28, 2009 @02:23PM (#29233963) Homepage Journal

    Modern fashion with gadgets is ultra thin and light, which is dangerous when it comes to lithium batteries. They are *delicate* and dangerous. This marketing decision leads to being not as good from an engineering standpoint (on being safe I mean) in designing the batteries, they are too subject to being smashed/bent, or have design and manufacturing screwups, and that leads to simple failure or catastrophic failure.

        This utter fixation on having the smallest most powerful batteries combined with their basic chemistry of heating and catching fire and having runaway reactions will inevitably lead to a lot of failures when you are making millions of units.

        And look at all this constant kvetching about battery life on laptops and so on. Geez, what a freekin non problem theoretically. If people could be content to carry the same weight they did just a few years ago, as if their girly man muscles could even handle the strain, oh the horrors, they could have *bigger and longer lasting and safer batteries*, probably cheaper as well, but every generation of new gadgets they insist on shaving some ounces and inches off. Well, you can do that to excess it appears. Battery tech has not quite kept up with other electronics miniaturization tech here, so you get problems. They can make the batteries smaller plus more powerful at the same time, but obviously it raises the risk factor. They are pushing it too close to the exploding edge.

    Small, powerful, safe, pick two

    Form is not necessarily your friend always over function. Perhaps if they take a few tens of million$ in cost in recalls and lawsuits this lesson of marketing versus engineering quality standards will sink in better. And any company that did that could turn it around in the market, use their new designed safer and more powerful batteries, albeit larger and heavier, as a marketing edge over just smaller and lighter. There could be some rather humorous ads along these lines showing the victim of the teeniest gadget walking around on fire and all charred all the time, just so he can stupidly brag how cool his new .5 ounce and 1/64th inch thick iXploder is...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by indiechild (541156)

      Thick and heavy gadgets won't cut it in today's market. My 1st gen iPhone is at the "barely tolerable" size, weight and thickness -- any bigger and I would be loath to carry it in my pocket when I don't have a shoulder bag with me.

      Nobody wants to go back to the 90s when people were carrying around brick phones.

    • by dangitman (862676)

      And look at all this constant kvetching about battery life on laptops and so on. Geez, what a freekin non problem theoretically. If people could be content to carry the same weight they did just a few years ago,

      Wait, what? A few years ago, your laptop was still using a Lithium Ion battery. They've been used in laptops for, what, over 15 years now? To go back to non-lithium technology, you'd need to go back a lot further than "a few years."

      oh the horrors, they could have *bigger and longer lasting and safer batteries*,

      This makes no sense. A larger battery (of the same technology) is more hazardous, as there is more fuel for the fire.

      Besides, smaller device like the iPhone tend to use Lithium Polymer batteries, which are widely considered a safer derivative of the technology than regular Lithiu

  • It's fairly common practice that companies don't lay claims to their products breaking. But I find Apple are some of the worst about it.

  • Does no one else find the makeipodsafe.com site to be an obvious (and hilarious) parody?

    * There are millions of Apple products out there at the customers...
    * According to the last ones which already explode and went on fire...
    * How to avoid iPhone from exploding
    * Lots more...

    And this? [makeipodsafe.com]

    C'mon people; that's comedy gold.
  • According to the BBC [bbc.co.uk], Apple has analysed the reports and the returned iPhones and concluded that in all cases, "external force" caused the breakage, and that there is no indication of batteries overheating or internal explosions.

          -dZ.

    • Haven't there been a couple of discussions already this year regarding people who try to scam stores and warrantee service?
      • by dzfoo (772245)

        Yes. My guess is that there are at most a very few number of strange incidents which warranted genuine investigation by Apple (perhaps just a couple), but since the anomalies were touted all over the web as "OMGBBQWTF!!! exploding iPodz!!1one! FAIL!", some people have tried to take advantage of the bad press to extort a refund from Apple.

        In any case, if Apple is to be given the benefit of the doubt, the incidents have been much over-stated.

              -dZ.

    • by mjwx (966435)

      Apple has analysed the reports and the returned iPhones and concluded that in all cases, "external force" caused the breakage

      Because Apple would never lie or misrepresent the truth to protect its reputation.

      Even if the failure was caused by "external force" the device could still not be within legal safety standards. If a phone has a risk of exploding after being dropped it is still not considered safe. A device with an Li battery must be able to withstand a certain level of impact without becoming dan

      • by dzfoo (772245)

        I'm not assuming they would never lie; God knows I don't have much trust of corporations. However, I'm also sceptical of users complaining loudly about Apple just because it is the fashionable thing to do; especially in Slashdot, where Apple has turned into the new evil empire, and Google is the messiah incarnate, as if the world was just so black and white. Besides, other than some very few allegations, there is really no indication that the phones actually exploded, and Apple is denying such allegations

        • by mjwx (966435)
          Then I assume you plan on doing the same thing as me, waiting for the EU to finish it's investigation.

          No charges have yet been laid, this is a bog standard consumer affairs investigation, it happens all the time in Australia and the EU. If the EU finds nothing wrong and Apple is complying with safety standards then the EU will publish this and nothing more will happen.
          • by dzfoo (772245)

            Exactly. I believe that the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) is also investigating the allegations in the U.S.A.

                  -dZ.

  • France.. (Score:4, Funny)

    by kevinNCSU (1531307) on Friday August 28, 2009 @02:56PM (#29234479)
    There's been several exploding iPhone incidents in France. While Apple claims they are isolated unintentional incidents the French Government issued a formal Surrender to Apple just in case.
  • No one wants to talk about it, but I will.

    The real cause is that these devices are running on *BSD. The icon for BSD is no accident. It is representative of the devil that is inside of every computer device running BSD. They all explode!

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