Apple Blames iPhone Explosions on External Forces

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Apple has been receiving a lot of negative press lately due to reports of faulty iPhones literally blowing up in users’ faces. Well, in the general vicinity of their faces. The latest reports come from France, where an 18-year-old man reported that his girlfriend’s iPhone’s screen shattered, injuring his eye. At least three other similar claims have been made.

In Europe, where the incidents took place, Apple is responding to the allegations. The company maintains that nothing it has seen indicates anything other than damage caused by external forces. According to Alan Hely, a spokesman with Apple Europe, “[I]n all cases the glass cracked due to an external force that was applied to the iPhone.”

Apple’s line differs from that of three people claiming their iPhones’ explosions can be traced to heat dissipation problems integral to the devices themselves. The French teenager who’s eye was injured claims the iPhone began to hiss before exploding, which matches the report made by another affected party, a 47-year-old man from Liverpool, UK. The man’s daughter’s iPod touch supposedly made a hissing noise before exploding after he dropped the device.

In a third reported incident, no one was around to hear any hissing noise, should one have existed, since the Netherlands man who owned the iPhone that exploded wasn’t nearby when it happened. He’d left the phone sitting in his car, only to return to find it had burned a large hole in his seat.

Apple told the European Commission last week that these are only “isolated incidents” and don’t indicate a “general problem,” but there is at least one lesson to be learned from the accounts: If your iPhone or iPod touch starts hissing, put it down and clear out. It’s like a snake’s rattle. At that point, you know you’ve angered it. Just back away slowly.

Whatever the cause, Apple is definitely being kept on its toes about these “isolated incidents.” The Times reported that Apple offered the Liverpool man and his family a full refund if they agreed to sign a settlement form that would leave them open for legal action if they disclosed the terms of the agreement. Apple is also quick to point out that the iPhone 3GS remains unaffected by claims of this kind of explosive overheating, which reads a little like “But our new phones don’t blow up!”

They are right about one thing: So far incidents reported number only in the single digits. Hardly cause for widespread concern. That said, think twice about holding your iPhone or iPod touch up to your ear the next time you think you hear a faint hissing sound.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user magic_quote.

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