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Apple Says Reported iPhone 6 Battery Fires in China Likely Caused by External Factors

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After the widely featured Shanghai Consumer Council report detailed eight iPhone 6 battery fire incidents on Friday, after investigating each fire Apple announced they are likely caused by external factors and are not product faults.

The Shanghai Consumer Council had announced battery fires in eight iPhone handsets, also mentioning the handsets “powering down before their batteries were depleted.”

Investigation

According to an Apple spokeswoman in an email to Reuters: “The units we’ve analyzed so far have clearly shown that external physical damage happened to them which led to the thermal event.” Apple will also be investigating the power-down issue.

There is a small percentage that lithium batteries would spontaneously catch fire, however statistically, one in ten million would have the issue.

The most common causes of the problem are counterfeit chargers, being exposed to high heat, or impact damage. According to Apple, the apparent cause for all eight cases is likely impact damage.

Fear After Samsung’s Battery Problems

Especially after Samsung’s recent global recall of 2.5 million Galaxy Note 7 handsets due to their battery fires, the thought of unsafe iPhones was very worrying for consumers.

In the Shanghai Consumer report, it mentioned that after Samsung recall, complaints regarding Apple products jumped at an almost two-fold increase from last year.

“The Samsung case did make Chinese smartphone users start to think an international brand doesn’t necessarily equal a safe product,” according to Nicole Peng, Asia-Pacific director at researcher Canalys.

However, the issue with the Galaxy Note 7 was that Samsung’s design of a significantly thinner device without reducing battery life failed to allow the usual “expansion space” needed for a lithium battery, leading to the battery fires.

The case of Samsung’s battery fires were widespread, resulting in recalls and even being banned from air travel.

While those cases were clearly a product fault, Apple so far deems the iPhone 6 fires not due to an internal cause.