Cincinnati – An Ohio family is relieved their home hasn’t suffered major damage or worse, been burned to a crisp, when their security cameras catch one of their iPhones on fire while everyone else is fast asleep.
Jennifer Lesgang and her family hope their story will protect other families from a fate worse than theirs.
On January 9, at around 1 a.m., Lesgang said she and her family were asleep when an iPhone 4 that had been left charging on the kitchen counter suddenly caught fire.
Leisgang told FOX TV Stations that the phone was charging with an original Apple charger.
Home security camera footage shows a small fire igniting and then burning violently on the countertop for a few minutes before slowly starting to die out.
The next morning, Leisgang and her husband, Brian, are met with a very unusual sight – soot all over the table top and a broken black telephone.
“It had a silicone case on it that cracked and opened the phone,” Lesgang said. “There was black soot all over the countertop, on the chairs, and on the floor.”
Jennifer Lesgang ruined iPhone 4 with original Apple charging cable and damaged phone case. (Jennifer and Brian Lesgang)
Luckily, Leisgang’s husband cleared the island usually covered in their kids’ schoolwork and other sundries before heading to bed the night before.
“I realized how lucky we were that we didn’t have anything on the table and it came out on its own,” Lesgang added.
Leisgang’s husband shared the video and photos of the aftermath to Facebook as a warning to other Apple users to be careful and make sure their electronic devices are charged away from anything that could catch fire.
Melted components inside iPhone 4 by Leisgang. (Jennifer and Brian Lesgang)
“We were very lucky to avoid a house fire,” Brian wrote on Facebook.
Leisgang said she, like other parents she knows, is using older products like the iPhone 4 to give their young children something to watch videos.
But after seeing what happened to her “old” device, she wanted to know, how old was that?
Leisgang said she filed a complaint with Apple hoping to get some kind of advice when it comes to older Apple products, but the company hasn’t been able to provide a straight answer.
“Their verbal response, and I’m paraphrasing because I didn’t write the whole thing down, was that my device was old and they don’t expect their customers to use an old phone,” Lesgang said. “They didn’t really have an answer.”
Leisgang said the company has already asked her to send the phone in for further research.
Traces of the fiery explosion show that Leisgang’s iPhone 4 is slightly melting and splitting. (Jennifer and Brian Lesgang)
“They were going to send me a check for a replacement device by mail, but I declined their offer. I didn’t want any of this, I was reporting it after hearing so many other stories,” Lesgang explained.
Leisgang said the last she heard about her claim was that Apple executive relations took over and she hasn’t heard back on the allegation since.
“What age can it still be used?” Lesgang suppose. “An Apple phone is kind of like a mini computer if it’s connected to wi-fi. It’s a camera. You can watch videos on it. You can take videos. You can watch YouTube. There are a lot of families still using the original Apple iPad 4s, 6s, 6 “.
Apple told FOX TV stations that they were aware of the incident involving Leisgang’s device and were “looking into it further.”
Previous Apple product controversy
This isn’t the first time an Apple product has suddenly burned out.
In 2009, Apple actually launched an investigation after multiple reports of iPhones exploding for people across Europe.
In 2012, an iPhone 4 from the US state of Colorado started sizzling and smoking while on a bedside table next to her, Mashable reports.
Similarly, in 2016, a man in Atlanta, Georgia, was charging his iPhone 6 when it suddenly caught fire, and in 2017, an Australian man’s car was set ablaze by an iPhone 7 left inside the car while the man was surfing. .
Also worth noting is the 2016 Samsung Galaxy Note 7 debacle when the company actually had to halt sales because the devices would explode while charging.
Apple’s batteries were also the subject of a consumer uproar in 2017 after the company admitted that it slowed down the batteries of older iPhones for technical reasons.
“We apologize,” the company said on its website. “We have never done — and never will — anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or diminish the user experience to drive customer upgrades.”
Apple said the slowdown began with iOS 10.2.1 in 2016 to improve power management “to avoid unexpected shutdowns on iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, and iPhone SE.”
Apple’s acceptance led to the company offering discounted battery replacements at $29, but many people claimed they had already spent hundreds of dollars buying new phones because Apple did not disclose the cause of the problem. Some consumers said if they knew they could just buy new batteries, they might not have bought new phones.
A class action lawsuit filed in California over slow batteries ordered the company to pay $500 million, including about $93 million to attorneys representing consumers.
Apple has not admitted wrongdoing in the lawsuit.
iPhone users named in the case will receive up to $3,500 each. The remainder of the settlement funds will be distributed to owners of iPhone 6, 6S, 7, and SE models who have met eligibility requirements related to the operating system they were running with at the time.
What causes some phones to explode?
The reason why phones fail is largely due to the battery. Many – if not all – smartphones contain lithium-ion batteries.
Lithium batteries are very popular because they pack more power into a smaller package.
But their chemical make-up makes them more susceptible to ignition under certain conditions because, unlike other rechargeable batteries, they contain a flammable electrolyte and are kept pressurized.
If batteries are manufacturing defective, damaged, packed too closely, overcharged or exposed to excessive temperatures, they can overheat, causing a condition known as “thermal runaway”.
This is a situation where an increase in temperature leads to a continuous increase – a kind of uncontrolled positive feedback. If one battery gets too hot, it can cause other nearby batteries to overheat and experience thermal runaway as well. Flammable electrolyte can also ignite.
How do you prevent your phone from exploding?
Again, while it is very rare, there are several ways to avoid any possible spontaneous combustion when it comes to your iPhone or any smartphone.
Get a phone case
Dropping your phone and potentially damaging the battery is one way it can lead to a fiery outcome, according to PC Mag.
Again, not every phone will instantly explode after being dropped without a case, but it’s better to play it safe than regret it.
Avoid extreme temperatures
Smartphone battery overheating has been linked to hardware malfunctions.
PC Mag said that even extremely cold temperatures can take a toll on a phone’s battery life.
It’s best to keep your phone in moderate temperatures if you can help it.
Do not cover your phone while it is charging
So basically, don’t keep your charged smartphone under your pillow while you sleep. This can lead to overheating, which as mentioned above, can lead to disastrous effects.
Practice good battery hygiene
While it’s a good idea to have your phone charged to 100% every time you decide to go out or get ready for some major social media scrolling before bed, it’s actually best to keep it anywhere between 30% and 80% charged.
Apple’s website advises consumers to keep only 50% of the device’s battery charge.
The Associated Press and Fox News contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.