back to article Finally proof that Apple copies Samsung: iPhone 7 Plus halts, catches fire like a Galaxy Note 7

Demonstrating yet again that Apple trails Samsung in mobile phone trends, an iPhone 7 Plus owner has reported that her prized possession recently blew up on her. Video of the rose gold phone smoking was posted to Brianna Olivas' Twitter feed, along with a later picture showing the burned-out phone. Olivas, who is 18 and lives …

  1. FF22

    Water damage

    That's obviously not a kitchen counter, but a bathroom sink. And the kid most likely dropped the phone into the water or spilled some onto it, which either caused short circuit or simply leaked into the battery (causing short circuit there, in the cells) - and that was what actually caused the burn.

    Just my two cents.

    1. Snar

      Re: Water damage

      I was just about to post a similar comment.

    2. Harry the Bastard
      Megaphone

      Re: Water damage

      apple claims the 7/7s phones are "splash, water and dust resistant, and were tested under controlled laboratory conditions with a rating of IP67 under IEC standard 60529"

      the 7 in ip67 indicates ability to survive immersion to a depth unlikely to be found indoors in domestic circumstances, certainly far deeper than any normal household sink or bath

      if your scenario were correct, it would mean apple lied and the phones explode when wet

      it seems more likely that the phone had a fault resulting in catastrophic heating

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Water damage

        "it seems more likely that the phone had a fault resulting in catastrophic heating"

        Or, more likely, it was damaged by sitting down with the iPhone in the back pocket of her jeans. That seems to be the most common storage place for phones, especially amongst teenagers.

        1. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: Water damage

          Please tell me where you can find women's jeans with pockets big enough to take an iPhone.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: Water damage

            "Please tell me where you can find women's jeans with pockets big enough to take an iPhone."

            You've not met my wife?

            1. Alien8n Silver badge

              Re: Water damage

              Yes, but they're womens jeans big enough to fit an American

          2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

            Re: Water damage

            Please tell me where you can find women's jeans with pockets big enough to take an iPhone.

            That depends on the woman size... If you think that only Kardassians carry a battlecruiser sized protrusion in their lower back, think again. If thinking does not help, take a walk (especially in the more run-down parts) around most of the USA.

            End of the day, USA food and drink is what brought to us the obesity pandemic in the first place, so having jeans back pockets capable of accommodating a 7 inch tablet will not surprise me.

    3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Water damage

      If it was 6 or earlier, I would have agreed with you. Apple up to 6 was a few years behind let's say Sony or Panasonic in terms of water resistance.

      7 is the first Apple phone to proudly go where err... Sony was 3+ years ago. It is IP67 so it should have taken more than half an hour of sitting in that sink for water damage to be the reason.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Mechanical damage

        I would think it would more likely have this due to mechanical stress from being sat on or dropped than simply water. Mechanical stress is the reason why hoverboards caught fire in such numbers - you're standing on it on after all! If we all stood on our phones for 10 minutes a day, they'd burn up way more often than they do... Exposure to water happens all the time with phones, I find it hard to believe that could cause it to burn up, unless there was already some sort of mechanical damage or manufacturing defect first.

        1. wikkity

          Re: due to mechanical stress

          You are sitting on it wrong!

          1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

            Re: due to mechanical stress

            I'm surprised we don't see more mechanical stress induced problems, what with the trend to wear skin tight jeans and carry phones in the rear patch pocket. Shows how resilient the devices are I guess.

            I have my phone covered in rubber armour, and find it a nice accommodating loose pocket to sit in, seems I worry too much perhaps.

        2. PNGuinn
          Go

          Re: Mechanical damage

          What a good idea!

          Might finally determine the true speed of a sheeple in a vacuum.

        3. madick

          Re: Mechanical damage

          Agreed - probably both. Mechanical maltreatment first (sat on or dropped) - which damaged the case seal allowing water to subsequently seep into the phone when it was dropped into the sink or splashed. The damage to the seal may not have been noticed and it could take several minutes for a few drops of water to permeate through the phone's guts before shorting something catastrophic.

        4. Slap

          Re: Mechanical damage

          That would be a reasonable assumption, however my experience tells me otherwise

          I have seen mobile devices and laptops seriously bent out of shape, or otherwise almost completely destroyed, but the battery, even though it's bent well and truely out of shape, has shown no signs of expansion, venting, or anything indicating that it's suffered a thermal event.

          On the flipside of that I've experienced batteries that have suffered a sudden and violent expansion, and/or thermal event without any indicators that the device was in any way prevously damaged.

          I'm inclined to agree with the girl in this instance. From the video the phone shows no damage, apart from what would be normal for an expanding battery. The venting and thermal event is likely to have been caused by the battery puncturing as it expanded - shouldn't happen, but it does.

          Given that the phone was taken to an Apple store because it wouldn't turn on at all then it would indicate a bettery in a very low state of discharge - this is bad as that's one of the danger points with LiPo cells when it comes to recharging them. That the Apple store staff "got it going again" is no way idicative of a problem resolution - we all know that getting something going again is a long way from solving the underlying problem.

          So, my take on this is that it was just a bad battery, that one in a million, the one that happens inevitibly every year.

          1. Danny 14 Silver badge

            Re: Mechanical damage

            I had a bad battery in my phone. I unclicked the back and put a new battery in. Problem solved.

            1. Steve Todd

              Re: Mechanical damage

              Not so good when it comes to waterproofing though. Fixed vs exchangeable is a design decision with trade offs in both directions. Pick whichever set of compromises suits you best.

    4. TallGuy
      Thumb Down

      Re: Water damage

      The iPhone 7 (and Plus) are waterproof. You can spill something on it, and drop it in water without problems, so this is actually complete bull.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Water damage

      "or simply leaked into the battery (causing short circuit there, in the cells) "

      Lithium batteries contain an extremely reactive electrolyte, which is why they have to be sealed against liquids. Also, there is only one cell in a phone. Perhaps you should avoid commenting on things you clearly know nothing whatsoever about?

    6. d3vy

      Re: Water damage

      "That's obviously not a kitchen counter, but a bathroom sink. And the kid most likely dropped the phone into the water or spilled some onto it, which either caused short circuit or simply leaked into the battery (causing short circuit there, in the cells) - and that was what actually caused the burn."

      Well someone needs to read the article.

      Other sources have reported that the day before the phone had stopped working but had been fixed in an apple store. Immediatly before the incident had happened the phone had been charging next to her bed - My assumption would be that on noticing smoke eminating the first reaction would be to get it somewhere wet - en-suite bathroom.

      Ive dropped many phones in water - none have ever caught fire.

  2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Statistically speaking

    with the large numbers (more than 50 Million) iPhones sold in the last quarter, is is statistically probably that a few iDevices may catch fire in a given period. IT is when that few becomes a lot that Apple have to start really worrying.

    One or two catching fire may well be down to a defect in a component and not an inherrent design problem as was clear in the Note 7

    Apple is probably treating this with due respect given the Samsung problems. If they aren't then they deserve everything they get including all the well deserved bad publicity.

    We shall have to wait and see what happens next but it won't stop the speculators from running riot.

    Of course, this whole thing could be 'Fake News'.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Statistically speaking

      The "inherent problem" with the Note 7 was that people were using poorly built usb mini-to-usb-C adaptors which didn't bother with any sort of polarity switching, leading to the phone getting current where it wasn't supposed to and blowing up as a result. Note 7s that were only charged with the bundled adaptor didn't suffer any issues.

      All the evidence with the iPhone 7 is that it's just randomly blowing up without any prompting.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: Statistically speaking

        The Note 7 quickly reached triple digit number of burning phones within weeks of release, when only a couple million had shipped. Apple sold 78 million iPhones in Q4, and are probably over 100 million now, at least half of which will be 7s.

        Not sure where you get the idea "all the evidence" is that the iPhone 7 is randomly blowing up without any prompting. It isn't as if there are even a double digit number of cases, and you don't know what people might have done to their phone that could have caused problems. Devices with lithium batteries have always randomly blown up in small numbers, whether they are in phones, laptops, or other devices. If Boeing has had battery packs that caught fire when they can easily afford to pay far more for better QC it is obviously something we just have to live with until those new lithium battery formulations make it out of research and to the market.

        Also, your diagnosis of the Note 7's problem disagrees with Samsung's conclusion. I think I'll believe them rather than a random AC. Pretty sure if they could solve the problem by sending people a couple free chargers and telling them to only use official Samsung chargers they would have done that instead of two full recalls!

      2. s2bu

        Re: Statistically speaking

        Polarity switching? WTF are you smoking? The Note 7 issues had NOTHING to do with chargers. Samsung's own investigation even said it was two completely different BATTERY issues:

        'After months of investigating, Samsung is pinning all the blame on two separate battery flaws, insisting nothing was wrong with the phone itself.

        For those who want to get a bit nerdy, here’s what Samsung says was wrong with each battery. For the first battery, Samsung says a design flaw in the upper right corner of the battery made the electrodes prone to bend and, in some cases, led to a breakdown in the separation between positive and negative tabs, causing a short circuit.

        With the second battery, which came from a separate supplier, Samsung believes there was nothing wrong with the design itself, but says a manufacturing issue led to a welding defect that prompted that battery to also short circuit and ignite.

        Samsung said that its design for the Note 7, while demanding on its battery suppliers, was not unreasonable or the reason why the batteries failed. The issues with battery B, Samsung said, were tied to the fact that the supplier tried to quickly increase its production after battery A was pulled off the market.

        “We believe if not for that manufacturing issue on the ramp [of battery B], the Note 7 would still be on the market,” Samsung Electronics America head Tim Baxter told Recode.'

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Statistically speaking

      Li-ions, and Li-Pos, and bears, OH MY! My kid sat on an iPhone 6+, bent it good at the volume control area, and it worked fine for weeks. Not a crack in the screen, not a peep from the device. Replaced it with a new iP7+ flat black. No defects in the paint, no problem with the battery, of course. They are supposed to be pulling 1A, and ship with the customary 1A mini charge plug, but I've been monitoring all my iDevices and they will pull up to 1.5A or slightly more for the iPad Pro 9.7" during the deeper charge cycle, then taper off as they near the 100% level. Kids, Li-ion batteries can blow up if damaged or manufactured below specs. And two phones out of dozens and dozens of millions of phones is hardly a panic. More likely it was sat on and/or charged from damaged or non-Apple charger.

      And don't rule out the cable, boys and girls. I went through and tested every one of my charging cables, and the pretty colored & coily ones turned out to be total crap, as were some non-branded ones, and the Air Hogs microUSB charging cables (but they are only for low-amp droney-copters that are pulling less than 300mA. so, no fear). The Apple, Samsung, vaporizer, and other cables could deliver well over 1A. Get a USB power checker, you guys! It's a must if you have, you know, devices and stuff.

      Still, this is a little bit of good news for the two people who bought Windows Phones and are still pissed about it. :P

      Which reminds me; I must test the output of the so-called 2A Samsung chargers and the 1A Apple ones. So far, I've only been testing with a 65W Siig 5 port charger (the golden boy!) and portable chargers. I needed to test every cable so my Raspberry Pi devices would not complain about the lack of power. Damn crappy cables!

      1. gnasher729 Silver badge

        Re: Statistically speaking

        Before you test chargers, I know that Apple chargers have some intelligence built in to detect which Apple device they are charging, and I suspect Samsung chargers would do the same for Samsung devices. The result is that they will provide more power than the USB standard says if they know the device being charged can handle it.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Statistically speaking

      >IT is when that few becomes a lot that Apple have to start really worrying.

      Why? Apple uses 3 different battery manufacturers for iPhone 7 at least (Simplo, Desai and Sunwoda) probably more as Dynapack may be back in the mix - it would be nice to imagine all their kit is made by magic elves in the Apple factory but neither exist.

      My iPhone 5c was replaced after out gassing which effected several 100,000's of handsets - keep using and they catch fire - there's still a serial number checker https://www.apple.com/uk/support/iphone5-battery/ and the recall/replacement program has cost many millions. Apple's talent is somehow making stories disappear while maintaining the 'Apple build' quality myth - and somehow Samsung's issues get mass attention.

      It's an inherent problem with the technology.

    4. smartermind

      Re: Statistically speaking

      Yes, let's dismiss everything as "fake news" now.

      Samsung took action after only 7 phones,were reported as catching fire.. So Apple should investigate now, not later.

      1. gnasher729 Silver badge

        Re: Statistically speaking

        7 phones out of two million within two weeks is not the same as 7 phones out of 100 million over six months. At Samsung's Note burn rate there would have been 4,500 burning iPhones by now.

    5. MrZoolook

      Re: Statistically speaking

      "One or two catching fire may well be down to a defect in a component and not an inherrent design problem as was clear in the Note 7"

      Cool story, bro! Needs more shilling.

    6. Open Sauce

      Re: Statistically speaking

      "Apple is probably treating this with due respect"

      What does that mean ?, are Apple handing out condoms ?

      Or telling teenagers to make use of the free condoms they're able to acquire ?

  3. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

    Apple Parts, Samsung Parts...

    ...all made in Taiwan!

    Phones nowadays end up using the same components, so an issue plaguing multiple phones isn't all that surprising. Both phones probably use the same exact Texas Instruments charging IC, or probably batteries using the same exact manufacturing process.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Apple Parts, Samsung Parts...

      Obviously it isn't the same, because if iPhone 7s were catching fire at the same rate as Note 7s, there would be thousands of incidents now and Apple would have been forced to do a full recall for the same reason Samsung did.

      There will always be a small percentage of devices using lithium batteries that go up, whether they are phones, laptops or whatever. iPhones have always caught fire in small numbers, just as previous model Notes and Galaxys did. The GS8 will undoubtedly have a few catching fire no matter how carefully Samsung checks (and they will be plastered all over the press because of the Note 7 attention, unfortunately for Samsung)

      What happened with the Note 7 was different than those, because of the vastly higher rate of problems it had.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Apple Parts, Samsung Parts...

        > Apple would have been forced to do a full recall for the same reason

        Apple have done several recalls the difference is how they phrase the issue - they talk about battery replacement programs not recall and 'unexpected shutdown', 'battery life problems' rather than safety cutout and battery decomposition.

        eg : iPhone 6

        https://www.apple.com/support/iphone6s-unexpectedshutdown/

        eg iPhone 5

        https://www.apple.com/uk/support/iphone5-battery/

  4. Chris G Silver badge

    Ah! Baked Apple!

    I hope that comes with honey, cinnamon and raisins.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ah! Baked Apple!

      I heard a company in the Netherlands was going to bundle Iphones & the new Raspberry 3's. Then we could all have Dutch Apple Pi! =-D

      *Runs away*

  5. b0llchit
    Facepalm

    Firecopy

    Did Samsung patent that particular feature? Or maybe it is a trade secret that got stolen. Looks to me like Samsung may be getting some of that sueball money back if they play their (self-igniting) cards just right...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Firecopy

      > "Did Samsung patent that particular feature?"

      A few wisps of smoke do not a cheery fire make. Apple is safe. Besides, prior art...

  6. m0rt Silver badge

    They could all stop trying to make large capacity batteries that are as thin as a piece of paper.

    Jeez - what started this silly trend?

  7. Oh Homer
    Headmaster

    Finally?

    I realise the author was being tongue-in-cheek, but Apple's entire business model is founded upon plagiarism, indeed Messiah Jobs regularly boasted about it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Finally?

      Originality 1/10.

      Insightfulness 1/10.

      Effectiveness Rating 1/10.

      Humor rating 1/10.

      Conciseness 10/10.

      Adjusted Troll rating 1/10.

      1. Oh Homer
        Mushroom

        Re: "Originality 1/10"

        Actually I was just going for "Truth 10/10". The rest is irrelevant.

      2. Open Sauce

        Re: Finally?

        Up vote / Down vote 16 / 4

    2. gnasher729 Silver badge

      Re: Finally?

      I realise the poster isn't the brightest person around... Do you think Picasso's work is found upon plagiarism? Because that's where the quote "bad artists copy, great artists steal" comes from. Great artists find inspiration everywhere. But they don't copy, they make it their own.

      1. Oh Homer
        Headmaster

        Re: "Do you think Picasso's work is found upon plagiarism?"

        The difference is Picasso didn't fraudulently claim exclusive rights to other people's work, then hypocritically sue people for doing the same copying that he did, especially when the thing being copied was as trivial as "rounded rectangles".

        1. gnasher729 Silver badge

          Re: "Do you think Picasso's work is found upon plagiarism?"

          Here we go again. "Rounded rectangles" = clueless twat indicator.

          Apple had design patents on the iPhone 3GS with a long list of design features, of which one was "rounded rectangles" (actually a rectangular shape with rounded corners). Samsung copied _the complete list_. That's what made it infringing, copying the complete design, not just parts of it. Everyone is free to create phones with rounded corners, and I think the majority do, and they don't get sued.

          Samsung has plenty of design patents for phones themselves, and guess what: These design patents contain "rounded corners" as one part of the design. Samsung actually had design patents for phones with rounded corners at the time they copied the iPhone 3GS. They could have just used the designs from their own design patents (including "rounded rectangles") and they would have been safe. Of course their phones wouldn't have looked like an iPhone 3GS.

  8. el_oscuro
    Mushroom

    GTA mod

    I wonder if they have come out with a GTA mod for it yet?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_GhODn4FRoE

  9. PNGuinn
    Pint

    Next Invite

    Oh, well, there go Vulture Central's next 3 invites to an apple gig ....

  10. Richard Scratcher
    Gimp

    Fake news

    An obvious and rather pathetic attempt by this "Brianna Olivas" (real name Samantha Sung) to cast doubt over the safety of Apple's products.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Fake news

      A horde of zombie Iphones could be filmed eating babies in prams and people would still defend them,

      And film them too.

  11. Irving Lypshytz

    Don't be breathing in that crap !!

    The smoke/vapours pouring out of anything LiION/LiPO powered are extremely toxic and should be avoided.

    This warning is often not clearly spelled out in news articles.

  12. Howard Hanek Bronze badge
    Windows

    Samsung Phones

    ....just an aside. Why didn't Samsung send those defective phones to ISIS rather than just warehouse them? With their headcoverings we could have ignited a few and saved some of the gazillions we're spending.......

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Samsung Phones

      The internet would be overloaded with too many videos of US ordnance.

  13. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Time enough to find another phone to video the first ?

    I've learned to ALWAYS think about the camera, and what's behind the camera. It's sometimes useful. In this case, I'm sure that it's perfectly explicable, but it's still worth asking...

    How she was able to find another phone so quickly?

    The non-smoldering phone used to video the first.

    To be clear, just asking. Odds are it's perfectly explainable.

    1. Chronos Silver badge

      Re: Time enough to find another phone to video the first ?

      I personally have access to my 'phone, two laptops with webcams, no less than four digital cameras, an Amazon Fire 6 (poor choice of name, given what we're discussing), my wife's 'phone, my son's phone and so on. I could grab any of them within the smouldering time of a mobile. I assume Ms whats-her-face has similar devices or theories of relatives from whom to purloin such a recording device.

      And I'm an old git, relatively speaking.

    2. imaginarynumber

      Re: Time enough to find another phone to video the first ?

      She was with her boyfriend. I would imagine that his phone was used to film the burning iphone.

  14. eldakka Silver badge
    Mushroom

    New insurance scam

    It used to be that you'd pay someone to..ah..relocate... your car while you are in the shops so that when you come out you would 'discover' that your car had been 'stolen'.

    Now, you leave your phone in the car when you duck into the shops, only to emerge to find - oh nos! - that your car has burst into flame while you were inside with all those 100's of witnesses and security footage to prove it.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Smartphones are approaching the threshold PCs had been in about a decade earlier

    The manufacturers all want to brag about their flagship phones at their keynote speeches: highest resolution screen, highest clock speed, biometric authentication, highest clock speeds etc.

    It eventually comes to a point when it makes more business sense to focus on keeping the device running cool, silent and power efficient. Squeezing out that additional spec benchmark bragging rights, or something that looks impressive on a product brochure, isn't going to cut it anymore. The shareholders must acknowledge this.

    Samsung's Note 7 fiasco was a case of penny wise, pound foolish. Trying to do too much just to one-up your biggest rival in order to steal the news cycle headlines from your closest rival.

    1. imaginarynumber

      Re: Smartphones are approaching the threshold PCs had been in about a decade earlier

      ?

      The Note 7 didn't catch fire because of the processor speed or iris scanner. It had a battery design flaw.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    F A K E N E W S !

    Because the alternative, that Apple is not perfect, is too distressing to contemplate.

  17. Slx

    High energy density battery - think of it like a lighter.

    We have to accept a degree of risk with these battery packs. They're storing an increasingly dense amount of energy and have a slight risk of fire. They're more comparable to carrying a cigarette lighter than an old nickel cadmium battery.

    One or two incidents doesn't mean the device is unsafe. The Samsung issue was a definite cluster of similar events.

    In general, just take reasonable precautions with mobile phones.

    Charge them at night on a non-flammable surface away from paper and fabric and not under your pillow, don't carry them in your hip or rear pocket if cycling or likely to fall and puncture the device etc etc.

    Don't carry a damaged bent mobile next to your skin in a pocket.

    Don't use faulty chargers especially unattended and check the cables for frays and the connectors for damage.

    They're just a very very minor risk, but they are a risk nonetheless.

    1. 404 Silver badge

      Re: High energy density battery - think of it like a lighter.

      You forgot cats...

      Just chews the wife's USB cables, not mine. Weird, huh? lol

  18. psychonaut

    she was obviously

    holding it wrong whilst charging it wrong

  19. Tom 38 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Save us from teenagers

    "So my iPhone 7 plus blew up this morning. Was not even using it, literally no explanation for this." ... The next day, while it was charging, the phone started to smoke.

    She has literally no explanation for this?

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