For a few days at least, it seemed as though Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) had its iPhone 6 battery problems under control. It had narrowed premature battery deaths to a tiny subset of devices and launched a repair program. Dead iPhones in China were linked to cheap third party power chargers. But now, the issue has flared up again. There are reports that the battery problem is more widespread than initially thought and even an outbreak of iPhone 6 fires.
Apple probably thought it had heard the last of its iPhone 6 battery problems. After a spike of complaints with the iPhone 6s, the company investigated.
It determined a small number of devices manufactured on a specific date suffered from faulty batteries that could cause them to shut down unexpectedly. It announced a free replacement program. When there were complaints about having to go to an Apple Store to confirm eligibility, it offered an online tool so iPhone 6s owners could check for themselves.
When the Chinese Consumer Association launched an investigation over iPhone 6s and iPhone 6 battery issues that could leave an iPhone crippled, AAPL acted. It found that every affected iPhone had been used with a cheap knock-off power charger, the kind Apple specifically warns against using.
These faulty chargers killed the battery and in many cases damaged the motherboard, rendering the iPhone useless.
Problem(s) solved? Not so fast
More iPhone 6 Battery Problems
It looks as though Apple is not out of the woods yet.
Yesterday, 9to5Mac published news that the iPhone 6s battery issue now appears to be more widespread than Apple originally thought. The company posted a support document (on its Chinese website) suggesting it will add diagnostic features to an iOS update, study the results, then attempt to release an update to address battery performance and unexpected shutdown issues. That suggests a problem affecting many iPhone 6 and 6s users.
It gets worse.
The Wall Street Journal published a report that China’s Shanghai Consumer Council is now investigating eight reports of iPhone 6 fires. According to the group, the iPhone 6 being used by each of these people spontaneously caught fire, with the battery to blame.
MacRumors followed up with a response from Apple. The company said it had examined the affected devices and determined they were caused by “external physical damage.”
iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s Cursed?
When Apple first released the new form factor, ultra-thin iPhone 6, it immediately had to deal with “Bendgate.” Then in the summer, just as it was being ramped up for the iPhone 7 launch, “Touch Disease” hit the headlines.
When the company should have been celebrating the iPhone 7 launch, it was dealing with growing concerns over iPhone 6 battery issues.
It almost seems as though the iPhone 6 series of devices were cursed.
Samsung (OTCMKTS:SSNLF) knows how bad things can get if your smartphone gets linked to exploding batteries. Apple is doing everything possible to ensure the iPhone 6 battery issues don’t escalate into a full-blown PR crisis, although the latest report of iPhone 6 fires isn’t helping any.
You can bet in the wake of Samsung’s fiasco and its own iPhone 6 woes, that AAPL engineers will be spending extra cycles working on the iPhone 8’s battery before release. That thing will be bulletproof.
It’s also clear the company needs to do something about knock-off battery chargers. They’ve been implicated in many of the Chinese issues and actually killed someone a few years ago. Even if the iPhone 8 arrives with a flawless battery, if the cheap chargers that are so popular in China — Apple’s third largest market — stay in circulation, next year iPhone 8 fires are going to be making headlines.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.