Mat Jones says he had left the phone under clothes in his car while taking a surf lesson. When he returned, he was shocked to discover the vehicle filled with smoke.
It hasn’t yet been confirmed that the phone was the cause of the fire: Apple says that it is aware of the incident and is investigating.
Some commentators are drawing the inevitable but spurious comparisons with Samsung’s Note 7 fires …
As we’ve recently noted, every piece of technology has a failure rate, and when lithium batteries fail, they can do so in spectacular fashion: a very rapid, intense fire known as a ‘thermal runaway.’
That there have been a number of iPhone fires over the years is in no way surprising. The overall failure rate of lithium batteries is around 1 in 10 million. When you have a billion active iOS devices, you’d expect around 100 of them to catch fire, so a handful of isolated cases is not evidence of any issue specific to the iPhone.
Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7, in contrast, notched-up 94 known fires in the space of just a few weeks with only 4-5M devices out there. And lest anyone think I’m giving Apple an easy ride, I’d note that I used the same stats to caution against jumping to immediate conclusions when there was just a single case of a fire in a replacement Note 7.