My experience with an iPhone 4S fire/short circuit

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by flyzapper, Dec 18, 2011.

  1. flyzapper macrumors newbie

    Oct 10, 2011
    Last night I plugged my 16gb black iPhone 4S into the charger and went to sleep. I woke up an hour or two later to my phone vibrating a lot and lighting up, like it was being unplugged and plugged back into the charger multiple times per second. I picked it up and was almost burned by how hot the phone was. As I gained my senses after waking up, I could also smell electrical smoke. I quickly unplugged the charger from the surge protector, and looked at the phone. I turned on the lights and saw that there had been short circuit and almost a fire at the connection point between the charger cable and the phone.
    Some background about my phone: It is just over two months old (per-ordered and received on Oct 14), it has never been dropped, and it has never been wet.
    I've heard or batteries overheating and catching on fire, but rarely a connector fire. I took my phone into the Apple Store today, and got it replaced for free in about 10 minutes. The Genius Bar employee who helped me told me that Apple Stores see about one fire replacement per month, I did the math, and with about 358 Apple Stores (as of November, 2011), this means that over 4000 iPhones are catching on fire every year. This seems like a very high number, even with the millions out there. If over 4000 of a certain car model spontaneously erupted in flames every year, there would be massive recalls. Why not with the iPhone?
    Here are some pictures of my phone and the charger cable.
    Any thoughts?

    Attached Files:

  2. ntrigue macrumors 68040


    Jul 30, 2007
    I wonder if you had iCloud backup on and this was inside the iPhone or just a cable issue.
  3. flyzapper thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 10, 2011
    I haven't enabled iCloud or backups of any kind on the phone. As far as I can tell, the phone was simply charging.
  4. AbSoluTc macrumors 601


    Sep 21, 2008
    Hate to say this but this looks like negligence. Why?

    If you look at the pictures of your dock connection and the areas surrounding it, they are GREEN which indicates CORROSION. Only way to get green in your connectors like that is via water or moisture. Fire doesn't do that. Moisture causing contact points to short, would cause overheating, smoke, electrical issues and eventually fire if not dealt with.

    Also to mention, it doesn't seem like you take care of your phone if after 2 months it's all gunked up like that at the bottom. Note the screw holes and the speaker/mic grills. Also along the steel band/bezel.

    What this boils down to is lack of care from the consumer.
  5. flyzapper thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 10, 2011
    Lack of care from the consumer? My phone has NEVER been wet, and the Apple Store confirmed a FIRE! The corrosion you see is due to the battery acid leaking and corroding the metal itself.
  6. AbSoluTc, Dec 18, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2011

    AbSoluTc macrumors 601


    Sep 21, 2008
    Apple store doesn't mean anything. They confirm crap all the time. Doesn't mean they are right. You asked for opinions. I gave one.

    Fire DOES NOT cause connectors to turn GREEN like in your photos. WATER/MOISTURE causes corrosion. FIRE chars/burns/melts.

    Why not pull off the back glass and see the inside? Post pictures of that? Would be curious to see what took place inside.


  7. flyzapper thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 10, 2011
    You are such a fool if you think that only water can cause corrosion. Battery acid corrodes metal much faster than water ever can. The picture you posted is irrelevant, you don't even say what it is or how long it was exposed to the corroding substance. I had my iPhone 4S for just over two months, and I charge it every other day or more often. Do you really think that it could have been wet for all that time and suddenly catch on fire yesterday?
  8. AbSoluTc macrumors 601


    Sep 21, 2008
    Did you see flames or was it just hot?
  9. flyzapper thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 10, 2011
    It was hot and I could smell smoke, but I didn't see physical flames. Like I said in the original post, I had just woken up and it took me a few seconds to figure out what was going on. I don't know what would have happened to the phone if I had not woken up, but open flames could have been possible based on how hot it was and the smoke.
  10. bruleke macrumors 6502


    Jun 26, 2009
    It looks like... hm... I dont know...

    Anyway, whats the point???:confused::confused::confused:

    The guy got his phone replaced by a new one! :D End of story!
  11. Timzer macrumors 6502

    Nov 10, 2011
    Glad you got your phone replaced. I'm finding more and more battery/charging related issues with the iphone. I honestly will not charge this phone while I sleep. I just don't have confidence in this phone's reliability from a safety stand point.
  12. Jare macrumors 65816


    Jun 17, 2010
    I think your tinfoil hat needs to be washed!

    @OP: Clearly there was corrosion in the Dock connector which caused the short circuit. Not battery acid after the fact. You got your phone replaced so I don't see why else you'd need to tell us.
  13. AbSoluTc macrumors 601


    Sep 21, 2008
    Ok - Please understand when I say this - in real life, I'm really not a dick. :)

    A few things for you - your phone didn't catch fire. It shorted out. It happens with electronics. I am happy it didn't burn anything down or you did not get hurt. However, believe it or not, your phone had been exposed to water of some type to have caused this. I know - I've seen it happen before.

    Either way, your phone was replaced right? Excellent! Nothing to worry about then. :)
  14. ayeying macrumors 601


    Dec 5, 2007
    Yay Area, CA
    Um, no offense but I don't see how the battery can "leak" into the connector port since the connection for the battery itself isn't even located near the port. And for that much battery leakage, I think a fire was the least of your issues.

    On the bright side, Apple replaced it, so really, you lucked out.
  15. DroidRules macrumors 65816

    Aug 10, 2010


    OP, you got it replaced right? NOW take better care of this phone.
  16. flyzapper thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 10, 2011
    I really take offense to people claiming I abused or somehow damaged my old phone with water. I have also received some pretty harsh private messages. All I know is that I always kept my phone dry and made sure there was nothing in the charger or connector that would interfere with the charging or electrical connection.
    I currently work in a genetics laboratory where I am in charge of several complicated genome sequencers worth millions of dollars together, all filled with very sensitive electronic components, so don't try to tell me I don't know how to keep a simple (compared to the equipment I run) phone maintained.
    I also know that the Apple Store employee classified the problem as a fire and battery leak, even though there were no open flames.
    I do however think one of the earlier posters who vowed never to sleep with a charging phone again is overreacting.
    You can doubt me all you want and keep claiming that I gave my phone a drink, but my experiences speak for themselves and are backed up by actual Apple experts.
  17. fullojellybeans macrumors regular

    Mar 31, 2010
    Just looking at the 30 pin dock connector cable photo (#3) you can see the cause of the spark. See those awesome bent pins which are pushed back from using force to plug in an idevice? That caused the short.

    Sorry to break it to you but if you were my customer, I would have had you pay for that had you brought in the cable with the phone. Then we could've had a long fight how you claim that you take 100% care of it then demand to talk to my manager but I filled him in that it's neglect and you'd have to pay.

    The battery in the 4/4S has about a half inch + between the dock connector and the battery itself. In between them is the audio board. The only time recently I've seen one get hot was near the camera during charging and that was beyond normal temperature.

    It's damaged similar to the way a MagSafe connector will get burn marks when the pins on the power adapter are stuck in.


    But ya know, I don't deal with this **** everyday (sarcasm) and I'm sure your genius just replaced it because it's the holidays or didn't feel like dealing with it.

    Either liquid or bad pins it's still damaged.
  18. acfusion29 macrumors 68040


    Nov 8, 2007
    i've said this before.. and i'll say it again. don't take anything to heart form this forum. just a bunch of losers who sit at home and are experts at everything (100% serious)
  19. scaredpoet, Dec 18, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2011

    scaredpoet macrumors 604


    Apr 6, 2007
    I'm not going to say that there was negligence or not, because I don't have the information I'd need to make that determination.

    What I DO know is this: if the battery's "acid" had in fact leaked out, it would've done far more than just corroded the contacts of the connector. In fact, any picture you would've posted after such a "leak" probably wouldn't have been recognizable as the bottom of an iPhone 4S.

    IF that's corrosion, something else likely caused it. What? I don't know, because I don't know the history of the phone. But it's certainly not any battery "acid" that's inside the phone itself.

    That said, I'm sure the Genius at the Apple Store was eager to make the swap for you without hassle because the company in general is skittish about their products catching fire. And the moment any customer brings up the specter of a product safety hazard, they probably would rather cave if it'll keep the customer happy than argue the fact.

    Bottom line: THey were courteous and replaced your phone. /Thread.
  20. JForestZ34 macrumors 6502a

    Nov 18, 2007

    This seems all true lately. My iPhone 3G has a green ribbon look to it in the dock connector. Probably something that has to do with the boards. I don't know why everyone is jumping down this guys throat.

    It could have very well happened the way he said. Last time I checked no one is god and knows exactly what happen. We have to take him on his word.

    My wife had her arm burned with a 2nd degree burn from a power supply on her arm. It was a dell laptop and the computer was in sleep mode and she fell asleep and the power supply fell on her arm. She was sleeping for about 10 mins before I noticed what happened. Stuff like this shouldn't happen.

  21. flyzapper thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 10, 2011

    It sounds like work at an Apple Store and you don't know your own product. The new cable I got today has the EXACT SAME pins sticking up. Here are pictures to prove that you are wrong. I would have made sure your manager was informed that you have no idea what you are talking about when it comes to knowing the products you sell.

    Attached Files:

  22. VulchR, Dec 19, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2011

    VulchR macrumors 68020


    Jun 8, 2009
    EDIT (again): @OP: the corrosion on the iPhone connector is not matched by corrosion on the cable, and the corrosion on the iPhone connector seems widespread and rather heavy. I'm just saying that if the iPhone leaked corrosives as you hypothesize, then it would cause comparable corrosion on the cable connector. Perhaps the phone got wet without you knowing about it - have you ever lent it to somebody? Do you live near the ocean?

    In any case OP, glad to hear you were able to get a new phone and also very glad that there was no serious fire and you're OK.
  23. Artimus12, Dec 19, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2011

    Artimus12 macrumors 6502a


    Nov 13, 2011
    I haven't read every post in the thread, but wanted to ask if anybody else noticed the 'fluff' around the speakers and port in those pictures? it looks like somebody's been shovelling bed linen into it! there's enough dust in there to fill a Dyson ..perhaps that why it caught fire! Also looking at the screws ..they look like they've been tampered with ..and whilst I'm at it, why do the pictures of the device show it poking through a cut-out in a piece of card\paper? would it be to hide its true identity perhaps?

    add the three indiscrepancies and you have to conclude the post is a FAKE. I don't believe that's a two month old iPhone 4S at all.

  24. Zxxv macrumors 68040

    Nov 13, 2011
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 5_0_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/534.46 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.1 Mobile/9A405 Safari/7534.48.3)

    maybe the cable got wet in manufacture or transit and corroded. Iv bought cables from a store before, got them home and found them corroded green, returned, tried to pick a new one but on inspection found all but one corroded. Told the store and they didnt even remove them.
  25. ZipZap macrumors 603

    Dec 14, 2007

    what do you do for a living?
    do you work near the ocean (salt water)?

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