Is the new iPhone 8 faulty?

Ten bat­tery ex­pan­sion cases arouse con­sumer safety con­cerns, but sales re­main sta­ble

Global Times - Weekend - - TECH - By Ma Jingjing

At least ten iPhones from the newly launched iPhone 8 se­ries have re­port­edly come apart soon af­ter be­ing used due to their bat­ter­ies ex­pand­ing, caus­ing con­cerns that the de­vice could ex­plode and threaten users’ safety.

A res­i­dent in Guangzhou, cap­i­tal of South China’s Guang­dong Prov­ince, bought an iPhone 8 Plus from an e-com­merce plat­form on Oc­to­ber 3, but found it had split at the sides be­fore he charged the phone, news site thep­a­per.cn re­ported.

The in­ci­dent is re­port­edly the first case of its kind in the Chi­nese main­land.

Ap­ple is look­ing into cases of ex­pand­ing bat­ter­ies split­ting phone bod­ies and cus­tomers are be­ing en­cour­aged to reach out to an Ap­ple Store or Ap­ple Care for as­sis­tance, the com­pany told the Global Times on Tues­day.

The bat­tery cells for iPhones are mainly sup­plied by Samsung SDI and Hong Kong-based Am­perex Tech­nol­ogy Lim­ited (ATL), with most com­ing from the for­mer, The Bei­jing News re­ported.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, most bat­ter­ies for the Samsung Note 7 are also sup­plied by Samsung SDI and ATL, rep­re­sent­ing 70 per­cent and 30 per­cent of the or­ders, re­spec­tively. All Note 7 bat­ter­ies that ex­ploded were man­u­fac­tured by SDI, it said.

ATL re­fused to com­ment when reached by the Global Times on Mon­day, but noted that me­dia re­ports about the quan­tity of bat­ter­ies it sup­plies to Ap­ple are false. Samsung SDI couldn’t be im­me­di­ately con­tacted.

In­dus­try an­a­lysts, how­ever, are main­tain­ing a wait-and-see at­ti­tude to­ward the case, as it is hard to clar­ify whether it is an iso­lated in­ci­dent or caused by flaws in the iPhone.

It is still un­known what caused the bat­ter­ies to swell, but these cases will not be taken as se­ri­ously as the Samsung Note 7 bat­tery ex­plo­sions, said Wang Yan­hui, head of the Shang­haibased Mo­bile China Al­liance.

“Although the bat­ter­ies for iPhones and Samsung Note 7s are pro­vided by the same sup­pli­ers, the size and den­sity of the bat­ter­ies are de­signed by the smart­phone man­u­fac­tur­ers them­selves. The Samsung Note 7 ex­plo­sion was caused by the de­sign flaw of cram­ming the bat­tery into too small a space, but Ap­ple is un­likely to make such mis­take,” he told the Global Times on Mon­day.

Fu Liang, a Bei­jing-based in­de­pen­dent an­a­lyst in the IT in­dus­try, said the prob­lem may have also re­sulted from the com­bi­na­tion of the bat­tery and its heat dis­si­pa­tion. But it is un­cer­tain whether the iPhones have de­sign flaws like the Samsung Note 7s, he told the Global Times on Tues­day.

Im­pact on sales

De­spite re­ports of swollen bat­ter­ies, Ap­ple’s deal­ers said sales have not been im­pacted.

The owner of a fran­chised Ap­ple store in Zhong­guan­cun, Bei­jing, re­fused to com­ment on the case, but said she has only sold four iPhone 8s since it en­tered the mar­ket on Septem­ber 22.

“Many con­sumers are wait­ing for the iPhone X, so sales of iPhone 8 have been low,” she said, not­ing she be­lieves sales of the iPhone X will be high.

A sales­per­son at an Ap­ple Ex­pe­ri­ence Store in Bei­jing’s Chaoyang dis­trict told the Global Times Tues­day that he heard the news about the bat­ter­ies, but that it has not had much of an im­pact and he is still fill­ing his stock as nor­mal.

“I will still buy the iPhone X. Ev­ery year when new iPhones are launched, some neg­a­tive news ap­pears, for ex­am­ple, iPhone 6 mo­bile phones were said to be eas­ily bro­ken. I tried an iPhone 8 at an Ap­ple Store dur­ing this Golden Week hol­i­days and found no ex­plo­sion,” a con­sumer told the Global Times on Mon­day.

How­ever, another con­sumer in his 20s hes­i­tated when talk­ing about buy­ing an iPhone 8. “Of course, the user ex­pe­ri­ence of iPhones is su­pe­rior, but I’m afraid the new iPhones have in­ter­nal flaws and can cause fires.”

Sales of the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus were 50 per­cent lower com­pared with those of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus as of the end of Septem­ber, do­mes­tic news site nbd.com.cn re­ported on Oc­to­ber 6.

An ap­ple store in Fuzhou, East China’s Fu­jian Prov­ince in Oc­to­ber.

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