EU to probe exploding iPhone claims

19 Aug 2009

The European Union has mounted an investigation into claims of exploding iPhones and iPod devices after reports surfaced last week citing incidents in France and the UK.

Apple is understood to be cooperating with the EU investigation but has dismissed the explosive claims as being down to isolated incidents.

It is understood that the EU has requested information from France, where the incident was reported, and the UK, where a similar case occurred with an iPod

The Commission has also contacted the agency for the safety of products in the United States.

Last week it emerged French teenager sustained an eye injury after an Apple iPhone shattered while in Liverpool a quick thinking dad through a hissing iPod Touch out the door within seconds of it exploding.

It emerged that an 18-year old Frenchman received an eye injury when his girlfriend’s iPhone shattered in his hand.

Romain Koleda noticed his girlfriend’s iPhone began to make a hissing noise before the screen shattered 30 centimetres from his face sending a shard of glass into his eye.

Luckily Koleda sustained only a minor injury, but his concerned parents are considering pressing charges against Apple.

The incident comes on the heels of a similar situation in Marseille when a user’s phone broke up in the middle of a call. Luckily the 29 year-old salesman wasn’t hit by any flying debris.

Last week in the UK quick-thinking dad Ken Stanborough threw his 11 year-old daughter’s iPod touch out the back door of his house when he noticed a hissing noise and condensation. Within seconds the device exploded, jumping three metres into the air.

Apple offered Ellie Stanborough a refund on the condition that the family sign a confidentiality agreement. This was after fuming dad Ken was passed around several departments at Apple and Argos where he had bought the device for stg£162.

The electronics industry in recent years has been plagued by product recalls and incidents of overheating devices like computers.

In recent years Apple, Dell and Sony recalled thousands of computers after it emerged certain models with Lithium Ion batteries were prone to overheat and catch fire.

In July Apple warned that its new iPhone 3G S gets hot during usage and has issued a warning against leaving it inside cars in hot weather. The new device will throw up a temperature warning if it overheats.

In a warning note, Apple recommended: “Operate iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS in a place where the temperature is between 0C and 35C (32–95º F). Low- or high-temperature conditions might temporarily shorten battery life or cause the device to temporarily stop working properly.

“Store iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS in a place where the temperature is between -20C and 45C (-4–113F). Don’t leave the device in your car because temperatures in parked cars can exceed this range.”

The company said that symptoms to watch out for in case the iPhone is overheating are dimming screens, inability to recharge, weak cell signal and, of course, a temperature warning that states: ‘Warning. iPhone needs to cool down before you can use it’.

The iPhone 3G S comes with a faster processor than its predecessor, the 3G model. The original 3G device came with a 400Mhz processor, whereas the latest model comes with a blisteringly fast 600Mhz application processor and this it is feared could be the cause of the overheating problem.

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years