Is the new iPhone 8 faulty?
Ten battery expansion cases arouse consumer safety concerns, but sales remain stable
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.