New York man claims his iPhone exploded in pants pocket

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(WABC/CNN) — A New York man is recovering from second and third degree burns after he says his iPhone exploded in his pants pocket.

Erik Johnson said his iPhone was in his pocket on Valentine’s Day when he says it spontaneously exploded.

“I bent over to get keys and all I heard was pop and after a little ‘sssssh’ smoke coming out,” he said, “and just like an instant burn, my leg just starts going on fire. I try to get it out, can’t get it out. I was literally jumping up and down, trying to get the phone out of my pocket, but I had dress pants on, I think the phone melted my pocket shut, so I couldn’t get into it, and I had to rip my pants off.

“A couple of people actually said they could smell my body burning. … I guess, like, when you’re branding a bull or something like that, that’s what it felt like. It really did.”

With second and third degree burns on his inner thigh, Johnson spent 10 days in a hospital burn unit before finally getting back home Tuesday.

The damage is obvious on the front of the iPhone 5C. But you really have to turn it over to see just how hot it got. The metal case is warped. It’s now stuck to the phone, and as hard as it might be to believe that this happened, it turns out that from time to time, smartphones explode.

Tech expert Ronald Gerber, CEO of Angelbeat, says the tiniest bit of damage to a phone’s circuit board, or the use of third-party charging devices, can cause the battery to overheat and spew “lithium lava.”

But in this case, Johnson says he used an Apple cable for his iPhone.

Apple says it’s looking into Johnson’s case.

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