The leaking of vapours from a damaged iPad battery led to an Amsterdam shop being evacuated and 3 staff being treated for breathing problems caused by the released gas.
Fire Brigade Called
Although the fire brigade was called and attended, there were no reports of any actual flames/fire coming from the affected iPad. Staff had, however, initially reacted to the smoking iPad by putting it in a sand-filled fire bucket.
Incidents of Similar Faults
Reports online indicate that similar faults have occurred elsewhere since Apple had started its iPhone battery replacement programme e.g. as reported on the Apple news site 9to5mac. Some reports indicate Apple stores in Switzerland, Spain and Hong Kong have been evacuated and medical incidents being reported this year due to problems with combusting / fumes from iPhone batteries.
While details are patchy, the insinuation by some commentators has been that the incidents involved the batteries of phones that been brought into the shop as part of the battery replacement programme.
There have, for example, been reports from 3 years ago of old batteries giving off smoke if pierced during replacement, although it is not clear if this was the cause of the latest incident.
What Battery Replacement Programme?
Back in 2017, Apple apologised for intentionally slowing down older iPhones (Phone 6, iPhone 6s, iPhone SE and iPhone 7 models), perhaps with a view to encouraging upgrades. Since Apple’s actions were discovered, Apple owners with older models complained of facing huge costs for upgrading, and Apple highlighted how older batteries lose power over time. This led to Apple deciding to introduce a battery replacement programme. This means that Apple will offer anyone with an iPhone 6 or above a newer battery for just £25. This represents a £54 saving.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
Apple phones are widely used and valued by business people and home users alike. The revelation of Apple deliberately slowing down phones to speed up the act of customers replacing their devices with the latest (and some would say expensive) versions, blotted what had been a relatively clean copy-book. The battery replacement programme appeared to be a practical way to perhaps gain customer trust back, say sorry, and legitimately solve some battery problems.
Like many phone makers, however, the at times unpredictable and potentially dangerous behaviour of some lithium-ion batteries can cause some very unwelcome incidents and publicity e.g. the Samsung Galaxy Note 7. These incidents illustrate how important it is that all aspects of the value chain in the creation and branding of premium products are right.
There may be real hope for phone manufacturers, however, since Norwegian scientists at IFE claim to have discovered a new wonder-material, ‘SiliconX’, for phone batteries that can stabilise silicon anodes for Li-ion batteries and offer five times the charge capacity.