This could be why some Apple iPhone batteries are exploding

Last week, we told you about two different cases where Apple iPhone batteries exploded and caught on fire at Apple Stores in Zurich, Switzerland and Valencia, Spain. While Apple has not commented on the incidents, no one was hospitalized as a result of the explosions, which created flames and heavy smoke inside both locations. The first thought that comes to mind is that there is an issue with the batteries, which was the explanation for the explosions that forced Samsung to recall the Galaxy Note 7 in 2016.

But one of our loyal readers by the name of Andrew Phan happens to be a DIY enthusiast and in the process of changing four iPhone 6 batteries, nearly had one explode while working on it himself. Before we continue, it is important to understand that Mr. Phan is not associated with Apple, does not work for an authorized repair center, and has just decided to pass along his observations based on his personal experience.

Now as many of you know, Apple Stores are changing iPhone batteries at a very brisk pace; while we don't have any numbers from Cupertino yet, we'd have to imagine that batteries are being replaced at a record setting pace at the company's retail locations. This has come about because Apple fessed up to throttling the CPU on certain iPhone models (iPhone 6 and later) with batteries that have lost some of their power. The concern is that certain complex tasks could tax these older cells so much, that the device could shut down. After disseminating a mea culpa, Apple took $50 off the price of a battery replacement, which now costs $29 for the remainder of the year.

According to Mr. Phan, the batteries are held in place by an adhesive strip. While trying to remove this sticky tape from one of the iPhone units he was working on, it ripped leaving the bottom part of the strip under the battery. As he worked to remove the battery from the adhesive underneath, it bent, creating a short circuit. Sparks and smoke came from the cell. Phan quickly removed the battery from the phone and doused it in water before it could explode.

Since Apple has yet to explain the fires that took place in the two Apple Stores, this is the closest thing to a reasonable explanation that we have. If this is the reason (Mr. Phan says that he is 99.99% sure that he is right), perhaps a little more caution on the part of the Genius Bar employees in the back of the stores could prevent any more iPhone handsets from exploding.

Thanks Andrew for sending this in!

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39 Comments

43. makatijules

Posts: 835; Member since: Dec 11, 2017

Apple adheres its batteries inside the case. They are a pain to remove and you can't melt the adhesive to remove them because the battery could heat up and catch fire. When you try to lift them, the adhesive is so strong, especially if too much was used, you risk bending the the battery and cause the layers that aren't suppose to come into contact, to do so resulting in a possible fire. This is exactly what happens when you puncture a battery with a metal object. The metal object causes the 2 layers that aren't suppose to touch to touch by using the metal object as a conductor. It is simply an exact science based on how batteries work. I don't thin Alan is trying to defend anything this time. Any person who works with electrical wiring and batteries could and would explain it the same way. The explanation is sound as to why removing the battery could have caused a fire. I don't really see what the issue is with that. The whole situation would have been avoided if, Apple has used a better quality battery from a quality OEM like Samsung or LG. Instead they used some craptastic $5 battery from some cheap Chinese corner store market, where the CPU is so powerful, it can't even run on 20% battery power which causes phones to just abruptly turn off for no apparent reason the user could see. Instead of Apple offering them the option to fix the problem at a lower cost, they allowed them to spend 800+ on a new phone over 100M times.

38. Davids1785

Posts: 1; Member since: Jan 15, 2018

Mr Phan is absolutely correct in the centre of these Lithium ion / Lithium polymer type batteries (used in all phones) there is a solid separator which keeps the anode separate from the cathode. This separator is surrounded by the electrolyte through which the charged particles are passing. If you bend the battery or indeed stab it with anything the hole created allows for the passage of the charge causing an internal short circuit. This leads to Thermal runaway which is essentially the phone battery heating itself up. This reaches a point where the electrolyte volatilises and this causes the battery to swell to the point of rupture. Normally the break down of the cathode in this process releases oxygen so the battery will burst into flames or release a significant amount of flammable gas.

36. tempdogg74

Posts: 136; Member since: Jan 04, 2009

I knew the words the Note 7 was gonna be in there somewhere. Phonearena stop riding Apples d#$/_. Look how they talking softly about Apple's exploding batteries.

35. ssallen

Posts: 224; Member since: Oct 06, 2017

So basically Apple batteries aren't exploding because, eh, "some guy you know" Lets not forget all the swollen batteries Apple delivered from the factory last October.

34. AceNJ

Posts: 26; Member since: Sep 29, 2015

I had this exact same situation occur to me while replacing a battery on iphone 6 a long time back before the throttling became apparent. it's extremely hard to remove the battery due to the super glue they use.

30. redmd

Posts: 1965; Member since: Oct 26, 2011

It's really scary to buy used iphones these days.

28. pongkie

Posts: 663; Member since: Aug 20, 2011

so apple has an issue like samsung's note 7 mess. instead of admitting it they make their customers pay for the damage..... nice!!

23. Tipus

Posts: 914; Member since: Sep 30, 2016

Excuses from iAlan F. :))

17. Ciro1900

Posts: 591; Member since: Dec 17, 2017

I m from Valencia, the next mascleta 2018 We're going to do it with iphones , applestore is nearhttps://youtu.be/IMs4ep6zv8c

13. darkkjedii

Posts: 31805; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

I wonder what the actual problem is.

37. roscuthiii

Posts: 2383; Member since: Jul 18, 2010

They sell A LOT of phones, millions of handsets. I'm wondering if the supliers or ultimately Apple aren't maybe also letting through a lot of parts that normally wouldn't pass quality control inspections to meet retail demands. Or, even that they sell so many that they just don't have the manpower to QC everything.

8. MOSFET

Posts: 19; Member since: Nov 10, 2014

But these are NEW phones that are catching fire. Nothing to do with repairing older batteries.

7. MOSFET

Posts: 19; Member since: Nov 10, 2014

But these are NEW phones that are catching fire. Nothing to do with repairing older batteries.

5. E34V8

Posts: 111; Member since: Dec 16, 2011

Lots of swollen iPhone display units in shops where I live. Seems to be a serious issue.

11. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Swollen iPhone batteries have lifted many a display were I live. They may not have a problem with fire prone batteries when they are inside of the phone but swollen batteries are in fact a fire hazard when replacing them, not to mention display destroyers as well.

42. makatijules

Posts: 835; Member since: Dec 11, 2017

batteries are suppose to explode. The paper they are wrapped in is suppose to expand to contain the explosive effect. If the battery does explode, it is because the heat was greater than the foil could contain which is what happened to the Note 7 or any phone that actually catches fire.

44. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Yeah and we are saying that the employees at the apple stores that had batteries catch fire damaged the "foil" and caused an explosion. BTW batteries aren't meant to exploded even if they do have safety features in place in case of one.

3. wando77

Posts: 1172; Member since: Aug 23, 2012

I like how they have concocted a story to defend Apple on this before knowing the truth and how they had to name drop Samsung in the article to take away some of the heat from Apple. Hilarious

4. maherk

Posts: 7101; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Where did you see them defend Apple? They are simply explaining what would be the problem, and it makes a lot of sense imo. Even without reading the article, I knew the batteries might have exploded because of an extra pressure that was put while removing them.

9. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Same, I fix my own phones and friends who have problems and don't want to go to a repair shop. Anyway things can get complex if you rush and given the amount of iPhone batteries that have caught fire, I was sure it was the fault of the person replacing said battery. Clearly not a case of bad batteries or there would be way more reports and the batteries wouldn't conveniently wait to catch fire once they were at an Apple store lol. Also how is PA putting the blame on Apple employs, somehow translating to PA defending Apple?

10. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

PA is actually blaming Apple employs for the battery fires, IDK how that translates into PA defending Apple in your mind. The fact of the matter is, if the batteries were to blame then it really wouldn't be Apples fault, at least not entirely since they don't make their own batteries.

12. AxelFoley unregistered

I was following you right up until your last point. Apple doesn't make their own anything. So, you're kinda saying that nothing is ever Apple's fault.

15. Anonymous.

Posts: 424; Member since: Jun 15, 2016

Exactly! Apple outsources everything gadget it sells, so saying Apple can't be blamed for these battery defects isn't accurate.

18. AxelFoley unregistered

Exactly......what? ""then it wouldn't be Apple's fault" "saying Apple can't be blamed is inaccurate " It's not Apple's fault but Apple can be blamed. I'll be trying to figure this out all day. It's like,"Apple innovates for everyone to follow....while at the same time, they take everyone's inventions and make them better.

27. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

I said not entirely Apple's fault, just like the note 7 wasn't entirely Samsung's fault. The blame is on more than one party. Apple can always be blamed for quality control but not for the defects in something Apple didn't design themselves.

19. lyndon420

Posts: 6942; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

Didn't see Samsung mentioned anywhere...

22. maherk

Posts: 7101; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

"which was the explanation for the explosions that forced Samsung to recall the Galaxy Note 7 in 2016."

1. afrohoxha

Posts: 264; Member since: Mar 13, 2014

You are replacing it wrong!

16. Supah

Posts: 692; Member since: Mar 08, 2017

Since Apple no longer can't throttle the CPU via their broken iOS updates, they've just enabled the iBomb feature. Apple's just looking out for their fans & had to help them find another way to upgrade.

20. Venom

Posts: 4114; Member since: Dec 14, 2017

You know Apple isn't the only one who throttles their CPU, right? Did we all of a sudden forget about the issues plaguing the Snapdragon chips that forced some OEMs to throttle it just because of the overheating issue?

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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