Things with batteries do sometimes overheat.
Yet when smartphones start to sizzle and smoke, it is a rare, yet scary occurrence.
The latest--and, thankfully, relatively harm-free incident--was reported by a Colorado woman. She says her iPhone 4 woke her not with a tingling alarm, but with a frisson of fizzing, as it allegedly smoked and sizzled by her hotel bed at 6:30 a.m.
In telling her tale to Mashable--with persuasive accompanying pictures--the unnamed woman says that the phone was charging a mere foot or so from her head. It was, as many charging iPhones are, on the nightstand.
Fortunately, she was in possession of a laptop case and used it to corral the smoking phone and toss it in the sink.
She claims Apple is being respectfully unhelpful when it comes to acknowledging the incident.
"They're giving me the classic corporate runaround, and I understand and respect that. But people knowing about this is the most important thing to me," she told Mashable.
I am not sure there is anything about the corporate two-step that is truly deserving of respect. In this case, though, the woman wants Apple to put a warning on each phone that helps people understand that sometimes battery-powered items blow up.
This is not the first time that an iPhone has allegedly gone up in smoke. Last year, there were incidents in both Australia and Brazil in which iPhones were said to have emitted fire and brimstone.
The year before, there was also the tale of a man who claimed his Motorola Droid 2 had singed his ear mid-conversation.
Apple has not so far commented on this incident. One does wonder, though, whether even a warning would cause people to behave any differently. If there had been a warning, what should it have said? "Do not charge your iPhone overnight?"
If there had been a warning, would the woman have not charged her phone next to her ear?
Or would she have been even more likely to always charge her phone earside so that there was less likelihood of a more advanced fire in another room that might have been less immediately detectable?
Her argument to Mashable was: "I really hate when companies have to wait for fatalities or something awful to happen before they do something."
There appear never to have been fatalities or, indeed, serious injuries resulting from explosions of any brand of phone.
It doesn't mean it could never happen. But how, realistically, could--or should--a manufacturer prevent it?