If you’ve ever wondered if there’s an app that will set your iPhone on fire, no need to search the App Store. It appears to be already built into the phone.
Two separate incidents of iPhones spontaneously catching fire (!!!) — one in Brazil and one in Australia — have been reported. On November 25, after his plane landed in Sydney, Australia, an iPhone owner reported his device smoking and beginning to glow red. A flight attendant dunked it in water and nobody was hurt. [Insert “If that happened in the USA and he had a decent tan, he’d end up in a Syrian prison for the rest of his life” joke here] It’s not known if the iPhone was a 4 or 4S model.
The second incident to be reported (but the first to occur) happened on November 22 when Ayla Mota left his iPhone 4 plugged in to charge overnight. He awoke during the night to see sparks and black smoke pouring out of the device.
Though it’s tempting to start wondering if every iPhone on earth is going to set its owner ablaze, it’s important to remember that these are two incidents (each showing different kinds of damage from the other) out of tens of millions of phones. Statistically, this is actually a low number of incidents considering how many devices are out there… though I’m sure that’s no comfort to the guy who had to say “Excuse me. I know I’m supposed to remain in my seat until the plane has come to a complete stop, but my phone looks like it’s about to go Mount Vesuvius all over the place.”
In the past, when a few iPhone 3GS models were overheating, blame was ascribed to faulty batteries. Apple also replaced first-generation iPod nanos because of an overheating scare (three fires in Japan were blamed on the iPod nano battery).
I wouldn’t get metal tongs to hold your iPhone with just yet, but it probably wouldn’t hurt to keep an eye on the news.