TR reader’s iPad melts charger cord, nearly combusts

Apple may have succeeded in appeasing iPhone 4 users with free cases, but it could have a new problem on its hands. Right before Steve Jobs began talking this morning, TR forum regular Forge posted a rather worrying story about his iPad charging cord melting while the device was sitting on his nightstand—and the iPad itself becoming hot enough to cause him to drop and break it.

The incident reportedly happened around 5:00 AM, when he noticed the smell of burning plastic. He puled out his iPad’s charging cord, which was “very melty, but more or less in one piece,” and grabbed the iPad, only to drop the device reflexively because of the searing heat.  He writes:

I’m not sure how hot it was, but it was a lot. Very a lot. My spine intervened, I let go, and my hand shot into the air.

While I did the Reflex Injury Dance, my iPad hit the floor and bounced. Ouch.

Although it might be a little early to draw any conclusions, that incident sounds a whole lot like the problems that prompted mass notebook battery recalls a few years back. Too bad the iPad battery isn’t user-serviceable. Could an iPad recall be on the horizon?

Update 3:27 PM: Forge has returned from the Apple Store and sent us an update.

Comments closed
    • WillBach
    • 9 years ago

    That’s really disappointing. I (personally) would like better customer service than that.

    Apple’s reaction is especially surprising considering how paranoid they were with regard to overheating magsafe adaptors for laptops. People whose magsafe adaptors fizzled out weren’t asked it they were running Windows or Linux, their adaptors were replaced for free, and Apple’s reps asked all sorts of questions about their safety to make sure no one was hurt. Then (I immagine) they examined the hell out of the faulty adaptor to make future ones better. Shouldn’t they be doing this now? Ford and Microsoft have both sold products that spontaneously burned houses down, resulting in deaths. I would expect Apple to work hard to avoid that crowd because it’s expensive to join and impossible to get out of. Remember the bad press Apple got when a kid was knifed to death so the thief could grab his iPod? Burning down a house with a crib in it would be just as bad, if not worse.

    I really don’t think a piece of broken glass or jail-broken OS should distract Apple from a chance to make their products safer. Apple is one of the hardware manufacturers who (unfortunately) make hardware that can overheat with software changes. My MacBook Pro overheated horribly when running Windows XP with Boot Camp. I later discovered that this was because under OS X, the Radeon was underclocked by about 66%. I had to setup a little utility to underclock at startup to avoid constant crashes because the Windows driver didn’t do that. This was about two generations before ATI got its act back together. That said, just because a software change might have caused the damage, doesn’t mean that Apple shouldn’t examine the damaged hardware. It could give them an important opportunity to avoid joining the aforementioned club.

    • Thresher
    • 9 years ago

    Forge, you might submit this to Consumerist.com to see if there are any suggestions on how to get this resolved.

    • PeterD
    • 9 years ago

    This looks like a popular topic.
    Let’s put something in too.
    Wow! Now I’m read!

    • joselillo_25
    • 9 years ago

    no problem, you can call apple for your free fire extinguisher case.

    • Fighterpilot
    • 9 years ago

    I think some of the essential coolness of the iPad and other ithings is compromised by using glass that can break or chip so easily.
    Gadgets just get dropped every now and then.
    Imagine passing it to a “non iPad person” for “a quick look”.
    One day it will hit the floor,be sure of that.iPhones as well.
    More money on tough,but ergonomic hardware and a little less glamour would seem to be in order.
    Anything you carry around a lot will get dropped or impacted in some way from time to time.
    Apple needs to be a bit more Borg and a little less rainbows and rocking horses with their hardware.

      • Skrying
      • 9 years ago

      What are you talking about? The glass used on the latest smartphones is very tough. One of the absolute toughest is that used on Dell’s Streak, it can literally take a screw driver to the face and survive without notice.

      What material should they use besides glass? Plastic? Acrylic? All of which scratch and are not nearly as clear?

        • Fighterpilot
        • 9 years ago

        That’s very nice Sky,however I was talking about the iPad that managed to crack its”very tough” glass just by dropping it.
        *see Forge’s pic*
        Thanks for not reading tho…

          • Skrying
          • 9 years ago

          He dropped the device from a high enough distance to cause the crack (now why he dropped it, a fire, is an entirely different issue). When you drop a piece of glass it cracks, especially if you hit it at certain angles. Again, what do you propose Apple or any other manufacturer or designer do to avoid this issue? They’re constantly working to come up with ever tougher glass solutions. But non-glass solutions have all resulted in undesirable issues like poor quality viewing.

          You can’t use complete BS as another reason to bash Apple. You and other’s who do this annoy me. It ruins your argument when you just make stuff up or bash something there’s no way to avoid (like a glass screen). You’re doing no one a service and you’re hurting valid claims of other’s.

            • Forge
            • 9 years ago

            About two feet onto a hardwood floor, though it looks like it actually hit my metal spike bar. The spike bar has a very small ding (not even really a dent), but no cracked glass.

    • ronch
    • 9 years ago

    Off topic, but I think Steve’s decision to appease iPhone 4 users by giving them free cases is a crappy solution. it’s like your car having strange noises and your mechanic gives you ear plugs so you wouldn’t hear them anymore. Good job, Stevie! Apple fanbois and gurls will accept anything he says and does. It’s a religion, I tell ya.

    And no, I don’t think Jailbreaking your iPad would’ve caused this. Besides, this isn’t the first time something like this was reported. I heard this happened with iPhone 4 also. Maybe something’s shorting out in there.

    Note : This post isn’t meant to cream Apple. I believe Apple makes great products and they’ve made a name for themselves. I just think this decision by Steve is pulling a fast one on their many loyal customers. Also, I somewhat understand the reason Apple fanbois worship Apple, being an AMD fan myself and sticking with AMD no matter what, but so far, AMD has given me great service (RMA’s), and I think free cases for Apple fanbois just don’t cut it.

    • americanjester
    • 9 years ago

    It doesn’t even look like the chords that get burnt up. It looks like it was self-caused. I think you’re full of it, sir. You shouldn’t have jailbroken your iPad. You voided your warranty and now have to deal with the consequences. Don’t try to come online and have sites try to eat up your story to try and get some sympathy from readers. You dropped it and scrambled for an idea on how to get it replaced. You decided to burn the chord and go into the apple store to try and trick them. The joke’s on you that you didn’t try to hide the jailbreak. And just to be clear, I use plenty of apple products and have worked them to the point of exhaustion. My MacBook has survived a powersurge as well as my phone and neither have ever been so hot that I couldn’t hold them. Grow a set and stop trying to be a scammer.

      • Forge
      • 9 years ago

      You didn’t read.

      The CORD did not burn. The IPAD got extremely HOT.

      The nearby IPAD made the cable get wilted, runny looking, and overly soft.

      If the CORD (chord is a different thing) had CAUSED the problem, the CORD would be melted/burned, and the IPAD would not be HOT!

      • Prion
      • 9 years ago

      7/10 acceptable grammar and you got a bite

    • no51
    • 9 years ago

    apparently you didnt get the memo about the new hot plate app for the ipad.

      • just brew it!
      • 9 years ago

      Or maybe it is a new low-cost , low-speed networking option — smoke signals? With a little effort, you might be able to get around 0.1 bits per second out of it (depending on wind velocity)?

    • bhtooefr
    • 9 years ago

    Lawyer up. Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act explicitly states that using third-party products with your product does not void the warranty automatically.

    (Granted, the act of jailbreaking POSSIBLY could, but that would have to be tested in a court, I suspect.)

      • Forge
      • 9 years ago

      Lawyering up isn’t an option for me. I don’t make a lot of money at the day job, and buying an iPad pretty much cleared my discretionary funds for quite some time to come.

      Of course, if anyone wants to take this on pro bono, I’m all ears.

      • UberGerbil
      • 9 years ago

      Apple may be able to argue that jailbreaking amounts to violating the anti-circumvention measures of the DCMA. It’s a lot of dollars going to lawyers no matter what, and Apple has deeper pockets (though they may settle just to push the matter under the rug, which is why giving this wider publicity is valuable to Forge, and isn’t just more page hits for TR)

        • bhtooefr
        • 9 years ago

        Let’s get this on Engadget. Gizmodo will pick it up instantly, but Gizmodo’s name is mud nowadays, after the iPhone 4 leak.

    • wira020
    • 9 years ago

    I remember this happened to someone else before… read an article bout it… i just dont remember which site…

    • Ashbringer
    • 9 years ago

    Have fun soldering your battery.

    • Forge
    • 9 years ago

    Well, it looks like Apple feels I jailbroke my iPad, and that “clearly” caused the hardware failure. I’m sending Damage a more detailed writeup for an update.

      • just brew it!
      • 9 years ago

      That sounds like a load of BS. How the heck is jailbreaking gonna cause the battery and/or charger to self-combust?

      Ridiculous.

      (So… /[

        • Forge
        • 9 years ago

        Perhaps, but I certainly didn’t admit that to them.

        Also, as posted in the forum, the software restore I started in the Apple Store appears to be stuck. White Apple logo on the screen, no response.

        At this point I am very much no longer a fan of Apple in any sense. This is passing the buck, plain and simple.

          • just brew it!
          • 9 years ago

          This sounds like a defective hardware issue, pure and simple. Blaming it on “jailbreaking” (software) is a cop-out.

          This certainly doesn’t help reverse my decision not to buy Apple products. I’ve never owned anything of theirs. Not even a song off of iTunes. I’ve gotten along just fine without them since the Apple II days, I’ll probably be fine for another 30 years (assuming *[

            • bdwilcox
            • 9 years ago

            Ditto to that. Apple //c was the last Apple product I owned. Used to sell Mac clones and Jobs raped me on that one so Apple is forever on my Do Not Buy list.

            • just brew it!
            • 9 years ago

            I guess I wasn’t clear… I didn’t even own an Apple II. I was a Z-80 and CP/M kind of guy in those days!

            As far as Mac clones go… wasn’t impossible to do that without violating the copyright on their ROMs?

            • Forge
            • 9 years ago

            Apple licensed the ROM to third party makers for a short time, then canned the whole thing and left said third parties dangling.

            • just brew it!
            • 9 years ago

            Ahh, OK. I had forgotten about that.

            • bhtooefr
            • 9 years ago

            For a couple years or so, right before Steve Jobs came back, Apple decided that the best way to survive was to license Mac OS to clone makers, because Apple couldn’t compete in the low-end market.

            Of course, what happened was that the clone makers chose to build high-end systems and sell them for mid-range prices, cannibalizing Apple’s sales.

            • bdwilcox
            • 9 years ago

            Apple not only licensed the MacOS, they sold the ASIC you needed to boot it. Since they sold the ASIC at a loss, they heavily pushed CHRP (the Common Hardware Reference Platform) which was designed to boot MacOS without the ASIC.

            When Jobs suddenly reappeared on the scene, he killed all support for CHRP, abruptly cancelled all sales of the ASIC and refused to sell licenses for the new MacOS 8 to the clone makers, leaving licensees like Power Computing, Radius and UMax in the lurch. Apple did eventually buy Power Computing, but left the rest of us out in the cold. And a lot of very loyal Apple business partners lost their shirts from Jobs’ BS move, many whom never recovered financially. F*** Steve Jobs.

            • PeterD
            • 9 years ago

            Interesting story.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 9 years ago

            Not really a story – that’s pretty much exactly what happened according to everything I’ve ever read.

      • bdwilcox
      • 9 years ago

      If you jailbroke it, you should just be happy Apple didn’t send in their little jack-booted thugs to break down your door and confiscate your equipment. It looks like they learned a little more from China than how to manufacture overpriced goods with slave labor.

      • Cranx
      • 9 years ago

      Wow. Apple seems to try and down play any issues with its products. But, they “love their users,” or is it just their user’s money?

    • Dually
    • 9 years ago

    Bummer about your iPad, Forge.

    Way to reach for some cheap traffic there, TR.

    • BiffStroganoffsky
    • 9 years ago

    No recall on the iPhone4 so you can forget about a recall of iPads. Maybe you can talk them into a free insulative ‘bumper’ to make it easier to hold when it gets hot…again. (doubtful since you’ve gone past the thirty days cutoff)

    • Fragnificent
    • 9 years ago

    Hey man hopefully you’re OK. On another note, seriously, F*** Apple. Gone are the cutesy days of the early 80’s apple computer. This is a cold hard new Apple that just wants your money for their overpriced 3rd world made crap and for you to bow down and pray to the Almighty Jobs. They won’t get a dime from me.

      • jdaven
      • 9 years ago

      Wow, one guys Apple product short circuits and then makes Fragnificient short circuit.

        • Fragnificent
        • 9 years ago

        Well it’s not just that… they’ve been having these QC issues for a loooong time and they just avoid them or downplay them. If I’m paying top dollar for these toys I better get top quality, and that’s obviously asking too much.

          • jdaven
          • 9 years ago

          Well let’s wait and see what else Forge says before jumping to any crazy conclusions.

      • PeterD
      • 9 years ago

      q[

    • indeego
    • 9 years ago

    My pseudo-wife’s iPhone hasn’t worked properly (chunky response for everything) since iOS 4.0. Rollback to 3.x hasn’t worked either. She is so frustrated that she’s ready to bail on Apple for good. No cool burning things to show you, just a frazzled mid-life woman yelling at me like I’m the causeg{<.<}g

      • sweatshopking
      • 9 years ago

      dude! you are the cause!! you’re a man!! why the f didn’t you know the future? you should know better.

      From a man currently in trouble for not getting a bike he wasnt told to get.

      • WaltC
      • 9 years ago

      /[

        • UberGerbil
        • 9 years ago

        We always called them Spousal Equivalents. I even saw written invites that included “Spouses and SEs”

    • SomeOtherGeek
    • 9 years ago

    Man, that sucks! Hope the replacement goes smoothly. Look at the bright side, at least you caught it before your place went down in flames. Count the little blessings.

    • SNM
    • 9 years ago

    This is almost certainly an issue with his cable rather than the iPad — same thing happened to me once with my Powerbook (pre-MagSafe). If you twist them up enough you start wearing down the internal cable insulation or something.

      • PeterD
      • 9 years ago

      But doesn’t that mean they’re of bad quality?

        • ronch
        • 9 years ago

        Bad quality or not, given the price you pay for Apple products, you expect quality all the way.

          • PeterD
          • 9 years ago

          True.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 9 years ago

    WOW, that sucks, hoe this issue gets resolved.

    • excession
    • 9 years ago

    This sucks. Same thing happened to my BlackBerry Bold a while back – let’s not get over excited and blame Apple! 🙂

      • Cuhulin
      • 9 years ago

      Apple made the product!

      If the battery overheated in its first quarter of life (about as long as the Ipad has been on the market), why shouldn’t the manufacturer be blamed?

      What does intrigue me, though, is why would Apple even think that jailbreaking had occurred?

    • WaltC
    • 9 years ago

    Jeez, Forge–sorry to hear about that! This is the kind of thing that should happen to nobody, imo.

    On a related note, I’m still having trouble figuring out why anyone would actually buy an iPad–but then I’m apparently either in a minority or else a member of the silent majority, because I could never understand what people saw in the iPod, and iPhone is only marginally more understandable for me in that regard…;)

      • UberGerbil
      • 9 years ago

      No Walt, you’re just old 😉

      Actually, for all the hype the iPad got I only know one person who bought one, and beyond that I’ve only seen two “in the wild” at bars / cafes — vs the half dozen or so laptops I see in every coffee shop every day (which run about a quarter to a third MacBooks, which is way higher than their actual marketshare, so it’s not like I live in some anti-apple ghetto).

      But iPods and iPhones seem ubiquitous. At my pub everybody has a phone and over half of them are iPhones. And a lot of people seem to /[

        • bdwilcox
        • 9 years ago

        Could you please tell us the pub so I might never accidentally step into it.

          • UberGerbil
          • 9 years ago

          I just described pretty much every neighborhood pub with a youngish demo in Seattle. Heck, you see a lot of iPhones even in the fisherman pubs.

            • sweatshopking
            • 9 years ago

            Seattle. there you go. friggin west coasters. 😛 in all honesty though, everyone knows that win mobile 7 will destroy ios. you can’t even discuss it, because it’s so obvious.

        • WaltC
        • 9 years ago

        /[

          • indeego
          • 9 years ago

          Dude when my son has root I’ll throw a little party for him. THAT A BOY! YOU PWN3D DADDYg{

      • indeego
      • 9 years ago

      I’ve seen a few, both were held awkwardly in cases that eclipsed any netbook/ultraportable form factors. Screens are indeed beautiful. Given how each person I saw was using the device in a way to show it off, I immediately thought about attention whores. One guy was one the front of a bus and leaning over so anyone entering or exiting would clearly see it (at the risk of bumping into him each entry/exit.) ANother guy was in the middle of a starbucks with windows behind him (with more glare potential,) and looking up ever so often to see who was looking at him.

      My brother has one to develop on, and he can’t stand Apple, and he feels shame that he spent his own money on itg{<.<}g

    • glynor
    • 9 years ago

    There have been sporadic reports of similar things with iPods going way back to the first gen devices. I don’t think they’re widespread, or we’d see a massive amount of butthurt about it online.

    Take your charging cable and your iPad back to an Apple store, and they’ll give you a new one. If you don’t live near an Apple store, call AppleCare.

    I am positive that the second they see that, they’ll give up a new iPad with little more questions asked.

      • glynor
      • 9 years ago

      PS. The company I work for has a large number of Macbooks in our fleet. We’ve seen a few similar issues with the magsafe connector power bricks (though at about 1/2 the rate we see similar issues with our Lenovo laptops).

      AppleCare is very good about replacing them, even if the warranty is officially over by a smidge.

    • UberGerbil
    • 9 years ago

    Well, one incident does not a mass recall make, but it certainly is worrisome.

    I’ll be interested in following the story when Forge brings it in for a replacement.

      • UberGerbil
      • 9 years ago

      …and that went just about as badly as I thought it would.

    • KarateBob
    • 9 years ago

    /[

      • khands
      • 9 years ago

      Only the last one.

      • tay
      • 9 years ago

      Could Cyril stop writing shitty speculation?

      • ronch
      • 9 years ago

      Regarding AMD Bulldozer, I was actually thinking more about Sandy Bridge. They’d really better pull a rabbit out of a hat. Like make Bulldozer cores 2x faster clock-for-clock than Phenom II cores.

    • StuG
    • 9 years ago

    Never really felt too great about the charging mechanism of these things in the first place.

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