Saturday, August 29, 2009
Overheating iPhone reports 'exploding' all over France, Apple responds
Reports of iPhones exploding, starting fires and killing people in cold blood have been around since the inception of the handset. They've also been relatively sporadic, seemingly short on evidence, and Apple hasn't given complaints much credence or response. So when we heard a story from France the other day about a security guard's iPhone "exploding" and sending a shard of glass into his eye (though apparently not serious enough to warrant a hospital visit), it was a little hard to believe, but with a few other stories of cracking screens due to overheating cropping up in Europe over the past couple weeks, French authorities have taken an interest in the story. Anecdotally, a teen says his phone "imploded" in Belgium and gave him a headache, a woman's phone cracked without warning, and ten or so victims in France have come forward to complain of similar problems, picking up the interest of a French consumer watchdog group. Apple is naturally not new to the concept of overheating in its battery-powered devices -- in fact, it's just entered into its first full-on iPod nano recall in Korea of the 1st-gen players after numerous reports of battery faultiness worldwide -- but with 26 million iPhones out and about, and the iPhone 3GS tending to run a bit hotter than its siblings, a systemic problem with one or all models of the handsets isn't something consumers or Apple would take lightly.
Herve Novelli, France's top trade official, met with Apple France's Michel Coulomb today to discuss the problem, and so far Apple is sticking to its guns: it claims that reported incidents are in the single digits, and that all cases it's investigated fully so far have turned out to be blamed on "external force" to the screen. Herve and Michel seem to have parted on friendly terms, promising to keep in touch over the issue, and the EU's alert system for dangerous consumer products (inexplicably dubbed RAPEX) is staying in the loop as well, asking the 27 member nations to keep tabs on the situation. Novelli says it's "too early to blame anyone," and we'd have to agree, but we hope Apple keeps up the (freshly) open communication about this issue going forward.
Read - French minister meets Apple exec over iPhone problems
Read - Apple denies 'exploding' iPhones
Read - Apple denies battery problem with exploding iPhones
Read - Belgian teenager latest victim of exploding iPhone phenomenon
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BELGIAN TEENAGER LATEST VICTIM OF EXPLODING iPhone PHENOMENON
by Robin Wauters on August 28, 2009
A 15-year old Belgian by the name of Salvatore is the latest victim in a series of mysterious iPhone explosions that have captured the attention of France’s and the European Commissions’ consumer affair watchdogs. Details are scarce for the moment, but according to local news reports the teenager was holding his iPhone in his hand, about to make a call, when the device suddenly ‘imploded’. The incident didn’t cause any serious injuries but reportedly gave Salvatore a headache for a couple of days. He has been promised a free replacement unit by Apple but hasn’t yet received a new phone.
There have earlier been numerous reports of exploding iPhone devices in the United States, United Kingdom and France, with most recently about ten cases having emerged in France where the official competition, consumer affairs and fraud watchdog DGCCRF has now launched an investigation to find out whether the popular Apple smartphone could pose a threat to consumers. Apple, which has sold 26 million iPhones and 200 million iPods to date, said it had been informed of the French cases, but would not comment until it had closely examined the damaged phones.
Update: Apple has now said iPhones turned in by customers in France and elsewhere in Europe with shattered screens showed external pressure that would have caused the cracking. More on Bloomberg and Techmeme.
In one instance, a French teenager claimed he was hit in the eye with a glass shard when the screen of his iPhone cracked up. He said he would seek a full refund and file suit for damages. In another case, Apple came under fire for allegedly asking a young British girl’s family to sign a confidentiality agreement (aka a gagging order) before it would agree to refund her.
Earlier this month, Apple reportedly informed the European Commission that it regards all reported iPhone explosion cases as isolated incidents and have no evidence of a general problem. The European Commission, which has stated that the U.S. technology giant has been very cooperative, has asked all 27 EU nations to keep it informed of any problems under the community’s rapid alert system for dangerous consumer products, known as RAPEX.
(Image via QuickPWN)
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