Overheating issues with smartphones seem to be becoming increasingly common after the recent combustion incident on an Australian airline.
During a routine flight from Lismore to Sydney, a passenger’s iPhone 4 started to heat up and glow red while venting smoke.
A flight attendant wielding a fire extinguisher stopping this strange combustion doused the smartphone’s flames.
Regional Express Holdings provided a photograph of the device in a press release, and judging from the picture, it can be concluded that this iPhone was tampered.
It features a custom backing similar to one created by Jonathan Mak, an Apple fanboy from Hong Kong.
This backing is the same dimensions and thickness as the back panel that comes with the iPhone 4 or 4S and features a silhouette of Steve Jobs inside the Apple logo, according to Mak.
This panel comes in both black and white and it can be bought for $23.90.
“The rear panel is exactly the same dimensions and thickness as the original Apple rear panel,” Mak said.
He also commented on the cover in the picture citing that it “also used a glass lens cover and flash diffuser of the same quality as the original from Apple.”
This custom panel could have been the cause of this combustion, according to IBtimes.
The publication said this rear panel seen in the picture could have had alignment issues with the phone and exerted extra pressure on the iPhone battery causing it to overheat to the point of smoking.
“The distance between the back and the battery is pretty significant, so the only plausible think was the back was so defective or so bent that it wasn’t installed properly,” said Scott Dingle, an account representative at iFixit.
Dingle believes there is a very small chance that the backing caused this overheating issue.
“I can’t imagine a situation where somehow the back was perfectly pressing against the battery,” he added. “Nothing seems plausible.”
The combusting iPhone is currently in the possession of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.
“We do have the phone, it’s in our custody, and we will be undertaking a technical examination of it,” said a spokesperson for ATSB to IBtimes.
The ATSB has no other records of incidents such as this one occurring with electronics.
However, in 2009 a report came from the Netherlands where an iPhone 3GS turned bright red and caught fire burning a hole through a car seat.
Another incident occurred in recent years with a French teenager having his iPhone crack up and leave a glass shard in his eye.
In England, a teenage girl’s iPod Touch exploded in her family’s car after increasing in temperature and hissing violently. The device popped within 30 seconds and launched 10 feet in the air.
The girl, along with her father, left the vehicle only to return later and witness it “filled with black smoke.”
Apple took no responsibility for those incidents but ended up refunding the girl $271 for her iPod Touch.