This latest incident in what is becoming a very bad run for Apple follows others in Great Britain, the United States and Japan. The young man concerned is not seriously hurt, that which cannot be said for the safety reputation of iPhones.
Romain and his girlfriend Delphine decided to sit on the terrace of his mother’s home on a balmy evening late last week in Aix-en-Provence in the South of France. Delphine took her 3G iPhone with her. After a while spent chatting, Delphine said the phone began to hiss and the front panel started to crackle.
“I had it in my hands,” said Delphine later, “and the screen began to crack up.” The gallant Romain took it off her to take a closer look. He takes up the story. “It was about 30 cm from my face when I felt something like a grain of sand enter my eye. It couldn’t have been anything else but a piece of glass or plastic.”
He went inside where his mother looked after him and washed his eye out after phoning an ophthalmologist friend to ask him what to do. She then ‘bled’ his eye with a compress. "It began to soak up several fragments, none of which was more than half a millimeter long," said Romain.
Meanwhile, the phone was still cracking up, but it finally stopped a short while afterward.
“I had charged it the evening before” said Delphine “And I didn’t telephone anyone all day.” The teenagers also said the the phone wasn’t somewhere where it could overheat and that it had not been dropped.
A similar accident had happened the day before in Marseille, where an iPhone cracked up. Its owner was not hurt in that incident.
These events follow similar ones in Great Britain, the United States and Japan in which phones reportedly overheated before exploding or cracking up.
An American Commission set up to test the iPhones concerned suggested the phones’ lithium-ion battery may be the culprit.
In Great Britain last week, another iPhone, that of an 11-year-old child, exploded. She was carrying it when it began to heat up before cracking up. Her father threw the phone to a safe distance where “Thirty seconds later it exploded and began smoking.”
Apple offered financial compensation for the incident but the child’s father, Ken Stanborough, declined it “Because of a troubling letter from Apple” which asked that, in return for the compensation, “My daughter, her mother and myself say nothing about the incident to anyone.”
In Japan, the government has issued a warning about the risk of burns from iPod nano models after ten incidents were reported, and in Ohio, United States, a 15-year-old boy got his leg burned by an iPod which overheated.
Apple recalled almost two million Macintosh computers in 2006 which were fitted with faulty Li-ion batteries, made by Sony. Those batteries contained the risk of overheating or explosion.
This report from French daily Le Figaro, expanded the story of the young French man’s accident that was originally carried in a local Aix-en-Provence paper containing the headline “Apple: Exploding sales...And exploding products too.”