Gadgets

This is what happens when an iPhone explodes in your pocket

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David Cornish
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Before pressing on with this story, we best warn you that it will result in groans, pulling of theatrical "Ouch" faces and create something of a smartphone-related nuisance for you. 

Namely, working out which pocket you're ever going to want to put your iPhone in ever again. Ready? Good.

This is Gareth Clear

Gareth Clear is a 36-year-old management consultant from Sydney, Australia. Gareth Clear likes going for bike rides on quiet Sundays. Gareth Clear often puts his iPhone 6 in his back pocket when riding said bike - but he's never going to do that ever again. 

What happened to Gareth Clear?

Clear fell from his bike, landing heavily on his right leg. He told The Sydney Morning Herald what happened next: 

"I just saw smoke coming out of my back pocket...and then all of a sudden I felt this surging pain." This was followed by a sensation of "searing heat" as the lithium ion battery proceeded to explode. 

"I just remember looking at my leg and I had this black discharge all down my leg and this smell of phosphorus."

Clear was taken to hospital, where he was told he had third-degree burns. He was given a skin graft.

How did it happen?

Smartphones are powered by lithium-ion batteries. They're compact, rechargeable and have a (relatively) long life span. However, they can do nasty things like explode - particularly if they're badly made (remember all those stories about exploding Hover Boards last Christmas?).

Clear was just very unlucky: by falling on his iPhone, he managed to break a thin layer that separates two chemical groups in the battery. They reacted, causing his phone to 'explode' and melt in spectacular fashion. 

So where should you keep your iPhone?

So where should you keep your iPhone?

Honestly, there's a very, very slim chance of your iPhone exploding if you were to fall off on it. You're more likely just to crack the screen.

If you've seen Clear's images and don't want to risk it, best try sticking it in a jacket pocket, stuffing it in your bag or buying a rugged case.

And should your smartphone ever feel incredibly warm after charging or a fall, best not stick it near your groin, okay?

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David Cornish

Shortlist.com’s esteemed Tech Editor. David has a keen interest in video games, Star Wars and stuff that runs on batteries.

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