The owner of an Apple iPhone 7 Plus got a surprising wake-up call earlier this week. Her smartphone was on fire.
A video posted on Twitter on Wednesday by Brianna Olivas, an 18-year-old college student in Tucson, Arizona, shows the rose gold iPhone in a clear, melted plastic case sitting on a bathroom basin and billowing smoke. Olivas’ boyfriend captured the 21-second clip with his phone.
“I was so shocked because I didn’t know how this could have happened,” Olivas told CNET.
An Apple representative told CNET that the company “is looking into it” and that it talked to Olivas at the Apple Store when she brought in the damaged iPhone.
News of a flaming smartphone causes some jitters, particularly following the issues experienced by Apple rival Samsung. The South Korean company’s popular Galaxy Note 7 was pulled from the market after dozens of units caught fire worldwide. Two separate battery flaws were to blame, and Samsung has changed its manufacturing and test processes to catch any future battery problems before devices hit the market.
Reports of combustible iPhone batteries have been more isolated, but they have surfaced. In October, an iPhone 7 reportedly caught fire in Australia and destroyed a user’s car and an iPhone 6 Plus reportedly flamed out in New Jersey. Apple has previously blamed reported iPhone fires in China on “external damage.” As of Friday afternoon, Olivas’ iPhone video had been retweeted over 30,000 times.
It’s getting hot in here
Olivas told CNET that she bought the rose gold, 128GB iPhone 7 Plus, with clear plastic case, from Sprint on Jan. 4 and didn’t have any issues until earlier this week, when the phone wouldn’t turn on despite still having 56 percent battery left.
“My phone out of nowhere died,” Olivas said. “I plugged it in and thought it was so weird because it took longer than usual to turn back on.”
When the iPhone finally came back to life, it stayed on for only a few moments before shutting off again. Olivas plugged the phone in again, and the screen started flashing the Apple logo. It then went dead and wouldn’t turn on again.
The next morning, Tuesday, Olivas took the phone to a Sprint store. A tech support worker at the store was able to get the device to turn on, but the screen was an unusual yellow color, she said. Sprint ran diagnostics on the iPhone but found nothing wrong with it.
“I asked how that could be. The phone wasn’t turning on at all [on Monday],” she said. “They said they were not sure, but there was nothing wrong with the phone. They said they weren’t too concerned with it.”
The next morning, things — er, the phone — heated up. Olivas said she was asleep when the phone caught fire on a dresser next to her bed. The squealing noises from the smoking phone woke up Olivas, and her boyfriend threw the device into the bathroom.
“I knew something was wrong with the phone, but [Sprint] told me nothing was wrong,” Olivas said. She said she never dropped the phone, and it had no water damage or cracks. She also used the charger included with the iPhone, not any third party products. And despite some reports, Olivas’ case wasn’t a special liquid-filled iPhone case but was a clear plastic case made by Tech21. Tech21 didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
“I was pretty upset,” said Olivas, who usually sleeps with the phone next to her head. “My hair could have caught on fire, or my face could have burned.”
Olivas went back to the Sprint store on Wednesday, where she was then instructed to go to an Apple Store instead. The Apple Store employees examined the phone and replaced it with a new model, as well as replacing Olivas’ melted plastic case. Olivas hasn’t had any contact with Apple since exchanging the phone on Wednesday.
Sprint didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Mashable reported on the damaged iPhone earlier.
First published Feb. 24, 8:43 a.m. PT.
Update, 9:46 a.m.: Adds more context and links. 5:10 p.m.: Adds comments from iPhone owner.