iPhone 4 'Bursts into Flames,' Report Claims

Today's Best Tech Deals

Picked by PCWorld's Editors

Top Deals On Great Products

Picked by Techconnect's Editors

The Boy Genius Report reports that an iPhone 4 "burst into flames".

They have photos, helpfully provided by "One of our very close AT&T sources" [translation: a retail store clerk] of the melted USB cable and the scorched 30-pin dock connector at the bottom of the phone. The phone was connected via its USB cable to the owner's computer.

Alas, they don't have any video: we have to imagine the phone's owner looking first puzzled, then horrified, then screaming as the flames "burst" and the ThisChangesEverythingAgain phone, the most advanced piece of technology on the planet as its fans reverently recite, turns into something that looks like a George Foreman compact griller.

Although BGR says there was a fire, they don't actually cite anything to back that (or the "bursting" flames assertion) up, not even a quote from the Very Close AT&T Source. According to BGR, according to their AT&T source, Apple says the cause was a defective USB cable.

"[I]t's still a little shocking to see it happen," writes "Marc", who blogged about the "flames" at Intomobile.com. "One would imagine that engineers have solved this extremely dangerous problem by now, right?"

Right, you are, Marc. And you're not the only who thinks so. Among the 242 (at last count) comments at BGR, are already a flock of comments about how they, too, have noticed their iPhone 4 getting really really hot. "Yesterday, as I plugged it to charge at night like usual, it began heating up seriously!", writes Carlos Martins.

Tip of the iceberg, people. Remember the Toyota gas pedal controversy, which finally forced the carmaker to recall, like, a zillion cars for a fix that may or may not have actually fixed it? All across America today, hundreds of thousands of iPhone 4 are going to looking, warily, at their iPhone 4, wondering...is it hotter than it used to be? Is it getting ready to burst into flames? Is there a website set up yet for the Class Action suit that I can get in on?

What could be causing it? Carlos Martins is pretty sure he knows: "I suspect there's a serious bug in the charging algorithm."

That's a pretty good guess, of course. It's a computer, after all. And those mysterious algorithms...they're supposed to be digital cherubs but so many times they act like digital gremlins.

Oddly, everyone seems to be overlooking the Most Obvious Answer, which is right there in front of us as we pore over the BGR photos: notice that the dock opening is right in the middle of the iPhone 4's external ANTENNA!

The very same antenna, actually antennas plural, that are causing, at least for some users in some cases, serious detuning and signal attenuation problems if they hold it the way virtually every right-handed phone user on the planet holds any mobile phone today. [Check out our iPhone 4 Antenna FAQ] Except that for Apple CEO Steve Jobs, that traditional grip is now, simply, the Wrong Way to hold the ThisChangesEverythingAgain Phone.

It's clearly no accident that the dock is accessed through the steel antenna band. There's probably a serious bug in the thermometer algorithm.

Marc at Intomobile takes this incident, and his readers' safety seriously. Very, very, very seriously. "Word of warning out there just to prevent injuries: although our gadgets and electronics get hot every now and then, be cautious when things get a little too hot or when you suspect something may malfunction or go wrong. Serious injuries have resulted in the past."

One can imagine all too easily Marc saying something like this on a date. And even more easily imagining his date's reaction.

The BGR commenters are the best thing about this whole event.

The best part of this whole thing? The online comments from BGR readers:

"Just don't connect it that way..."

"From Steve Jobs: 'You're charging it wrong. Stay tuned.'"

"It just works............as tinder."

"Need to quickly locate a fire-extinguisher? There's an app for that."

"I thought Jobs said there wouldn't be flash on the iPhone. Guess he was wrong."

"Maybe if it burns away enough of that metal strip, people might be able to get reception on it."

"so when is it coming to verizon?????"

This story, "iPhone 4 'Bursts into Flames,' Report Claims" was originally published by Network World.

Note: When you purchase something after clicking links in our articles, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate link policy for more details.
Shop Tech Products at Amazon