Apple: If an iPhone cracks or overheats, that's your problem
In the latest indication that Apple tends not to show as much love toward its customers as its customers do toward it, the company made a statement to AFP press this morning effectively saying that fewer than 10 reports from its customers of overheating iPhone batteries are to be believed. Further, it added that anyone who finds herself with a cracked iPhone needs to look into the mirror for the cause.
"To date, there are no confirmed battery overheating incidents for iPhone 3GS and the number of reports we are investigating is in the single digits," an Apple spokesperson told the AFP. The report goes on to say that cracking in iPhone glass cases is due to a phenomenon it has termed "external force."
While overheating continues to be reported by many iPhone 3G and 3G S users on Apple's support forums, perhaps a more common complaint in recent days has been apparent fast drain times. Topics seeking help such as this one asking whether or not Apple has acknowledged an issue with fast drain times, are often met with a flurry of responses from non-official sources. Some refer the complainers to this Apple disclaimer on battery life, which they claim to be evidence that such drainage is impossible. Others refer complainers to official Apple statements like the one this morning to the AFP, saying such issues may not even be occurring; and some tell the complainers to take their phone to the Apple Store's "Genius Bar" and stop bothering them about it.
Some take the unusual tactic of denying the presence of other threads on the topic: "Apparently no one else has had this issue yet," said an early responder to a recently launched topic on drainage and overheating. One responder attempted to compare the ratio of people complaining about the issue, which he estimated in the hundreds, to the total size of the iPhone market to reduce the apparent severity of the problem. In one instance, the complainer was admonished for having purchased an iPhone in the first place, knowing full well that iPhone batteries have been exploding for years -- if he can't take the heat, the post essentially said, he shouldn't have invested in an iPhone.
Then many others take to the time-honored tradition of calling the complainer a moron.
In amidst all the calamity, however, there are some contributors who are offering a potential solution: Have the battery drain once completely, then recharge completely to see if that resets the battery. Some have reported success with this tactic; others who try it, but report that their batteries tend to run hot. Often bringing up the subject of heat on top of drainage collapses the entire thread into a political debate over whether naysayers are trying to slander the iPhone by saying it runs hot, when all batteries run hot. (Similar catastrophes can be found on support threads dealing with MacBook battery issues.)
The case cracking issue is particularly important for many users because Apple's warranty does not cover damage due to stress or personally-applied "external force." Nearly all support threads we've browsed on the topic this morning (there were many more than we had time to read) are from individuals seeking alternatives to completely replacing their phones, especially in situations where they actually appear to work just fine except for the crack.
Apple's stance is an indication that the company does not want to open the worm-can on possible design defects, which could lead to a nightmare scenario where it becomes responsible for replacing units that arguably were damaged due to everyday forces.
Apple's treatment of the glass cracking and overheating issues as separate may be particularly clever, though, especially since these issues could be related: stress fractures on a phone can cause the battery to ignite, as seen in this demonstration video above (which does not appear to involve an iPhone).