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My iPhone Spontaneously Combusted!

melted iPhone charger

This is what my melted charger looked like when I found the phone, smoking and burning. NOTE: this photo is NOT of my actual charger because since my iPhone was SPONTANEOUSLY COMBUSTING, I couldn't very well snap a photo of the cord that it had just melted. But this is pretty much exactly what my cord looked like.

When I was a kid, our household library contained a very 1970s-style, hardcover tome titled, “The Book of Lists,” which was exactly that; it contained hundreds of lists of odd and little known facts.

One of the lists in the book named every known case of human spontaneous combustion. That particular list has really stayed with me over the years because the idea of someone just suddenly erupting into flames for no reason sounded so bizarre and terrifying when I read it as a child.

I mean, how could someone just SPONTANEOUSLY COMBUST?

Well, while I still  can’t explain the mystery of human spontaneous combustion, after what I saw with my own eyes earlier today,  I can assure you that there is such thing as spontaneous combustion of an Apple handheld device. How do I know this? Well, because it happened to me….

Just shy of two years ago, the company for which I work transitioned employees who wanted to make the switch over to iPhones from Android devices and Blackberries. I definitely wanted an iPhone and was thrilled to  switch over. Although I have had a smartphone of some stripe since 2008 I had never had an iPhone, and I was sure I’d love it.

And I have loved my iPhone from day one. In fact, I have been  IN love with my iPhone. It quickly became an extension of my brain, and totally indespensible to my job and life. If I had to give up every other piece of technology that I own but one, I would cling to my iPhone like one of Harry Harlow’s baby monkeys. 

When I got my iPhone, friends and family taunted me, saying I’d break it within a month. Their teasing, while annoying (I’M LOOKING AT YOU, J AND E), was reality-based. This is because I  am somewhat infamous for my ability despite my best efforts to lose, shatter and otherwise destroy various smartphones. There have been incidents involving washing machines, toilets, car roofs and others that I am probably forgetting. I have even managed to break several Otterbox “Defender” smartphone covers per YEAR, even though they are supposed to be pretty much indestructible.

However, I have defied the skeptics with my iPhone, keeping it safe sound and in my possession for almost TWO YEARS. Perhaps it has  been my deep attachment to it that has allowed me to hang on to it as long as I have without a single mishap. (Well, okay, I did recently create an ever so teensy crack or two in the screen when I accidentally dropped it in the parking lot of my office building, but my beloved iPhone still worked absolutely fine and I remained perfectly happy with it.) But today ended my winning streak. How, you may ask?

Well, to put it plainly, my iPhone caught on fire.  My smartphone spontaneously combusted.  And this is how it all went down.

Earlier today, I had my iPhone plugged in on our kitchen counter while I was making a pot of potato soup. After a few minutes, I set the big pot of soup to cook on “low” and I left the kitchen to do something in another part of the house. After about five minutes, I started to smell something – a strange burning sort of smell, with overtones of chemicals and plastic. Although it didn’t smell like burning food, I of course rushed into the kitchen, expecting to maybe find our incredibly beat up and half-functioning stove on fire. And sure enough, when I got to the kitchen, there was smoke wafting through the air. But I was baffled. It didn’t appear to be coming from the stove. That’s what I looked over at my plugged in iPhone sitting on the counter and realized that my iPhone was on fire!

A good bit of smoke and a small flame were coming out of the place where the charger was inserted into the bottom of the iPhone, and I could see that the charger was rapidly melting. So what did I do? Well, the important things, of course. I screamed loudly and grabbed the only liquid I could see anywhere nearby  - a small glass of wine that was sitting near the stove –  and I  doused the burning iPhone with it. I then unplugged the charger from the wall (yes, in hindsight that should have come first), and I  gingerly removed the still very hot, melted charger from the iPhone, which was now, of course, covered in flame-killing wine.

When I picked the iPhone up to examine it, it was so hot to the touch that I had to put it right back down and let it cool off for a minute before taking a closer look.  When I tried again, it was still very warm to the touch  (plus it smelled a bit inebriated ), and I could see that the metal all around where the charger goes into the phone was literally scorched a brownish black color like it had been burned in a fire. Because it had.

OMG! I thought to myself. MY iPHONE SPONTANEOUSLY COMBUSTED!

And now, needless to say, my beloved iPhone is deader than a doornail. However, I am less worried about that than I am glad that I found the phone smoking and spitting flame on my kitchen counter before it became so hot that it might have truly erupted into a small fire, thus possibly burning our house down.

Needless to say, I was curious to find out whether this has ever happened to any other iPhone enthusiasts, so I consulted The Google. And it turns out that I am not alone in having my iPhone catch on fire all by itself (although no one else seems to have put the fire out with a nice Cabernet).  It happened to this guy in Finland. And it happened on this flight in Australia. And the melted charger bit happened to this fella over on the MacRumors forums. So I guess it’s not unheard of, but I had certainly never heard of it, nor had I ever once considered my phone to be a potential house fire hazard.

I would still love to have another iPhone, but alas, my company has just switched to the very popular “bring your own phone” plan for employees, which means that I will need to add my new phone to our family’s plan, which happens to be with the last cell phone carrier in the known universe that doesn’t  support the iPhone. So I guess it’s back to some kind of Android device for me (sob, sob).  My love affair with theiPhone appears, for now, to have come to an abrupt, fiery end, as so many passionate relationships tend to do.

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