A couple of weeks ago, Apple began offering free battery placements to iPhone 6S customers who were experiencing unexpected shutdowns. The company has issued a statement today clarifying the cause of the problem. It turns out that some batteries had been overexposed to “controlled ambient air” during packaging.
“Controlled ambient air” seems like an overly complicated way of saying that the batteries had been exposed to the air for too long during the manufacturing process. The result is simply that the affected batteries degrade faster than they would have otherwise, and the company stresses that these batteries are not dangerous to consumers. Apple says that only a very small number of devices have been affected, but hasn’t specified exactly how many.
“We found that a small number of iPhone 6S devices made in September and October 2015 contained a battery component that was exposed to controlled ambient air longer than it should have been before being assembled into battery packs. As a result, these batteries degrade faster than a normal battery and cause unexpected shutdowns to occur. It’s important to note, this is not a safety issue.”
Despite Apple’s claims that this isn’t a safety issue, a number of Chinese iPhone customers have recently been claiming that their handsets have been catching fire and exploding as well. It’s not clear if this is a related problem, but a Shanghai consumer watchdog wants Apple to respond to and address the growing number of complaints. The council has received a sixfold surge in complaints against iPhone products in the past two months. This has been led primarily by the shutdown problem but isn’t limited to just the 6S model.
Earlier in the year, a woman’s iPhone 6S Plus exploded, shattering the screen and blackening the back of the phone. Apple issued a replacement but didn’t comment on the cause. A droped iPhone 7 also exploded just 3 weeks ago, and again no comment was made on the issue. However, these appear to be isolated incidents, unlike the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco, which is likely why Apple has not commented.
If you’re curious as to whether your iPhone 6S had been affected by the battery manufacturing issue, you can check your serial number using Apple’s official tool and send off your phone for a free fix.