Zurich Apple Store evacuated after iPhone battery overheats

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Zurich Apple Store
50 people were forced to leave the Zurich Apple Store
Photo: Apple

The Zurich Apple Store evacuated workers and fans on Tuesday after an iPhone battery overheated.

The handset was being repaired when its battery malfunctioned, leaving one employee with minor burns and forcing around 50 people to leave the store, according to Swiss police.

Apple’s batteries are considered safe — a lot safer than Samsung’s — but any lithium-ion cell can potentially malfunction and overheat. In this particular case, an Apple employee was working to remove the battery at the time, which could have caused it to become damaged.

One Apple employee suffers minor burns

“At the same time, there was a slight build-up of smoke, which led to around 50 customers and employees having to leave the business temporarily,” a police statement said, according to Reuters. “The staff responded well and correctly.”

Sand was used to cover the battery in an effort to avoid further damage, and ventilation was turned on to remove the smoke. Seven people required medical treatment, but none needed to be hospitalized. Forensic specialists were called to investigate the incident.

It’s not clear if this particular battery repair was carried out as part of Apple’s new replacement program. Launched in response to customer backlash after Apple admitted iPhone throttling, it gives customers the option to get a new battery out-of-warranty for just $29.

Apple has not publicly commented on the report.

  • imaginarynumber

    Your suggestion that the Genius damaged the battery re-enforces my opinion that batteries should be made easier to remove.

    Motorola had a removable battery on one of their waterproof (IP) rated handsets. I would be happy with a handset being a mm or two thicker if allowed owners to replace batteries themselves, especially given that the batteries that Apple use seem to need to be throttled after only a year.

    • jms

      There are guidelines that all Genius’ must follow for safe removal of a battery. Basically, if you cant remove it by pulling the plastic pull tab or the pull tab breaks without removing the battery, do not attempt removing the battery and instead replace the whole phone for the customer.

      This situation would have only been caused by an accidentally piercing (screw driver for instance) or if they ignored guidelines and continued to pry the battery out with a tool of some description..

      • imaginarynumber

        Hi jms, I don’t doubt that there are guidelines, however I do think it unfair to assume that the engineer was at fault without evidence to back up the claim.

        Again we go back to my point about batteries that can be removed by pulling off the back cover and prizing them out with your fingers.

  • digitaldumdum

    “Zurich Apple Store evacuated after iPhone battery overheats”

    I •strongly• suspect the “technician” who was dealing with this battery did not do his work correctly. It is HIGHLY unlikely this battery spontaneously heated up by being removed. Further, the solution was throwing sand on the battery and evacuating nearby customers?? Did they think the store would burn down because of a “slight buildup of smoke?” Incompetence and overreaction seem to be the problems here, and little more.

  • Liam Powell

    It probably got punctured. By a stray screwdriver or something, maybe. No need for alarm, your battery’s pretty much never going to pop while your phone’s not being worked on.