'Self-Combusting' iPhone on Airplane Due to Screw Lost in Botched Repair Job

Last November, it was reported that an iPhone 4 had experienced self-combustion onboard an aircraft that had just landed in Sydney, Australia. The incident gained a fair amount of attention for the apparently dangerous situation it caused and existing concerns over occasionally overheating of iPhones and other devices, although those incidents are usually related to charging malfunctions.

ZDNet.com.au now reports that Australian government officials have concluded their investigation into the incident, determining that the device's battery had been punctured by a lost screw that made its way inside the device during a screen replacement procedure performed by an unauthorized service center.

The phone was sent to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) as part of an investigation into the matter, which has now revealed that a misplaced screw punctured the battery casing, leading to a short circuit that caused the battery to overheat.

The screw that caused the issue was the result of a botched screen-replacement job from a non-authorised service centre. A screw from the bottom of the unit, adjacent to the 30-pin connector, found its way into the handset, and caused the battery compartment to puncture as a result.

combusted iphone screw
X-ray of loose screw inside battery bay (top) and photo of damaged iPhone (bottom)

None of the aircraft's passengers were injured in the incident, which reportedly saw the device emitting dense smoke and a red glow, but it did highlight some of the dangers of carrying electronic equipment with powerful high-density lithium batteries on airplanes.

Related Forum: iPhone

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Top Rated Comments

Comeagain? Avatar
159 months ago
As a guy who repairs phones for one of the most professional and biggest repair companies, I can tell you that isn't one of the screws in the iPhone 4. Whoever did that had NO clue what they were doing at all. There aren't even any black screws in the iPhone 4, they're all silver.
That's an X-Ray. There are no colors, only what does and does not absorb those x-rays.
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kolax Avatar
159 months ago
That repair job really did screw up that guy's iPhone.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
FrizzleFryBen Avatar
159 months ago
Considering about 1.7 million people fly in the US per day and more than 50% own a smartphones, I really wasn't concerned about this. It's still good to hear it was a botched repair rather than an actual defect.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Neart Avatar
159 months ago
I'll give you that but that screw is way too big for any part of the iPhone 4, I can assure you. :] Belongs in an HTC phone, I'd assume.
AH it all makes sense... HTC planted their screw to cause this problem and bring down Apple's reputation:D
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jam3andy Avatar
159 months ago
That and...

The drawbacks of taking your electronics for repair to someone that doesn't know what they're doing.;)
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Loucifer Avatar
159 months ago
You know what they say... "The inexpensive becomes expensive".

Well, okay, that doesn't sound exactly right in English (it's a translation from the saying in Spanish "Lo barato sale caro".

You get what you pay for?

Anyway, the person involved is most likely regretting not taking the device to an authorized center.

I think the expression perfect for this case is 'You buy cheap, you buy twice'.

:)
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)