In the week of September 26, 2016, a post on the Reddit internet forum appeared by a user who claimed that his newly bought iPhone 7 Plus was delivered to him in bits and pieces. Attached to his message on the well-known online forum were some pictures of the damaged phone. Clearly visible are the burn marks, the deepest one on the whole left side of the front screen. The rest of the phone’s glass was shattered and the plastic completely deformed.
This message couldn’t have come on a less convenient moment for Apple. On October 11, their Supreme court case against Samsung takes place, dealing with the alleged iPhone copying by Samsung. Recently, Samsung launched a global recall of their newly released Samsung Galaxy Note 7, due to multiple complaints about exploding batteries. After the first two weeks on sale, there were 35 reports of a faulty battery on iPhone 7’s biggest current competitor, the Samsung Galaxy 7 Note. It now seems as if the iPhone 7 isn’t perfectly safe either.
Remarkably enough, in this case the iPhone 7 Plus didn’t explode during usage, but in transit from the factory to the buyer. The message spread across the internet very fast, leaving people wondering if Galaxy Note’s battery problem might be a more widespread one. It is important to realize that the lithium-ion batteries used in cell phones such as the iPhone are actually quite safe. However, if the battery gets punctured or severely dented it unfortunately does pose a risk to explode or combust spontaneously. In the case of the Galaxy Note, the reported explosions and combustions were not due to puncturing of the battery. These happened mostly during recharging and up until now, were much more frequent, hence the recall action.
Back to the iPhone 7 Plus, the shown pictures do appear to be genuine. A critical note is that the back of the iPhone shows some dents that don’t seem the result of heat. A likely possibility is that the phone’s battery was damaged during transit and that was what caused the explosion. When objectively reviewing this incident, it seems to be an isolated one, much like last year’s iPhone explosion incident, when an Australian cyclist fell off his bike with his iPhone 6 in his pocket. The phone casing was damaged during the fall and coincidentally pierced the battery, which rapidly heated up, burning the phone into the man’s leg. Then, the battery exploded with a metallic bang when the man managed to take his pants off.
All in all, the current iPhone 7 fuss seems to be blown out of proportion, although it does, yet again, teach us that caution is always called for when using our smartphones. Wrong usage might result in the battery catching fire or exploding.
We have to be honest, it looks a little bit like somebody’s used a hammer…