In what many are calling an unprecedented move, Apple has offered to exchange specific models of their older iPhone USB adapters because of the potential risk found of them overheating. This is according to an advisory that was first posted on the website 9to5 Mac.
In fact, it’s a very rare occasion when Apple actually comes forward and acknowledges that one of its own products has any type of safety issue. On the support page that the company hosts in the United Kingdom, there is a warning that says “Apple has determined that, in rare cases, the Apple 5W European USB power adapter may overheat and pose a safety risk.”
Although it’s definitely a good thing that they have finally come forward, the fact is that many iPhone owners have been reporting overheating problems and injuries due to iPhone chargers for a number of years.
Examples include a teenager in France in 2009 who was injured when his iPhone supposedly exploded. In 2011 on an Australian Airlines flight, an iPhone 4 began to discharge “a significant amount of dense smoke accompanied by a red glow,” which was reported at the time by ABC News.
For consumers who purchased a 5W European USB power adapter between October 2009 and September 2012, Apple is now advising that they trade those devices in at any Apple Store close to where they live. Although it’s actually unclear whether this is the power adapter that was the cause of the two incidents reported in 2009 and 2011, the program is now being rolled out by Apple anyway.
This particular adapter is the one that came with a number of iPhone models, including the 3GS, iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S. It’s also been sold in 37 different countries, including Russia, Italy, Germany, Norway and France and 32 others.
Ironically, in an effort to reduce “knockoff” charger sales around the globe, Apple kicked off a trade-in program for non-Apple third-party chargers about a year ago. This program allows the owners of Apple devices to trade in their third-party chargers and then purchase a new Apple-approved charger at a discount of $10-$19.
While there have been one or two incidents reported happening due to certified iPhone chargers, the fact is that third-party chargers have been associated with numerous injuries and, in the last year, two confirm deaths. In July 2013 a flight attendant for a Chinese airlines died when she was electrocuted by her iPhone 5. The device was plugged into a third-party charger at the time.
In most cases the increased risks are found with chargers that Apple has not authorized, largely due to the fact that they are poorly manufactured at best.