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January 10, 2018

Swiss Apple Store evacuated after an iPhone battery begins emitting smoke

by John_A

An Apple Store in the Swiss city of Zurich was evacuated on Tuesday after an iPhone battery began to suddenly overheat and emit smoke.

The battery was being replaced by a store worker when it suddenly heated up, burning the worker’s hand in the process, Reuters reported.

Local police at the scene said in a statement that there was “a slight buildup of smoke, which led to around 50 customers and employees having to leave the business temporarily.” Seven people in the store at the time of the incident received medical treatment, but no one was seriously hurt.

“The staff responded well and correctly,” the police said. “It sprinkled quartz sand over the overheated battery so that the smoke could be contained and sucked out after switching on the ventilation.”

Local media reported that the smartphone at the center of the incident was an iPhone 6 Plus that had been brought in for a replacement battery.

It appears to have been an isolated incident, though we know all too well from past incidents how lithium-ion batteries used in smartphones and other tech devices can sometimes overheat and even catch fire.

In 2016, Samsung was forced to recall its much-anticipated Galaxy Note 7 after an issue with the battery caused many units to overheat. Hoverboards, the big-ticket item of the 2015 holiday season, were also recalled on a massive scale throughout 2016, and even into 2017, after some units were deemed a fire risk due to poorly made lithium-ion batteries.

iPhone battery blues

Apple’s iPhone battery has been in the news a lot lately, but not for overheating. The Cupertino, California-based company recently confessed to deliberately slowing down some iPhones to stabilize performance as the battery ages. Many iPhone owners were upset Apple hadn’t been upfront about its actions when it began the practice via a software update in 2016, with some believing the company was deliberately and secretly frustrating users with slowed-down phones to encourage them to upgrade to new devices, a strategy known as planned obsolescence.

Apple insists its actions are supposed to benefit the user by reducing the chance of sudden shutdowns caused by aging batteries, but the outcry led the company to slash the cost of its battery replacement service for iPhones as far back as the iPhone 6 and SE models from $79 to $29 until the end of 2018.

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