THE last injury Gareth Clear was expecting while mountain biking was a severe burn from an exploding phone.
The 36-year-old from Bondi was riding around Manly Dam on Sunday afternoon when he fell from his bike, landing on his iPhone 6.
Seconds later he noticed smoke and a searing heat, before hearing an explosion as the phone he’d had for just six months ignited, melting through his shorts and two layers of skin on his upper right thigh.
The burn was so severe he had to undergo skin graft surgery at the burns unit of the Royal North Shore Hospital.
“It’s a bit random, the thing to be very specific about, the phone did hit the ground, it didn’t just spontaneously combust. It was a one in one million chance I hit a part of the phone which pierced the lithium battery and it exploded,” he said.
“I’m 36, I’ve had a mobile phone for 18 years of my life and for that thing to explode or short circuit and cause it to temporarily ignite. I could see the metal bending and all the lithium leaking out of the bottom end.”
While the base of the phone looks like “something from a chemical explosion,” he said, the top remains perfectly intact.
Mr Clear will be house bound for the rest of the week and remain hooked up to a machine to prevent infection, but expects it will take weeks to recover.
Dr Da-Wei Wang from the UNSW faculty of chemical engineering said it wasn’t uncommon for lithium ion batteries in mobile phones to overheat and ignite.
“I think many examples show that, if you search on Google there are many images of mobile phones which have been overcharged, which may cause it to be overheated,” he said.
But an explosion after an impact, he said, was most likely caused by a combination of overheating and a faulty design of the phone’s structure.
Mr Clear said Apple yesterday told him they would investigate the incident. However an Apple spokeswoman declined to comment to the Daily Telegraph.
Other recent reports include a man in Seattle who claimed his smartphone exploded in his pocket on July 23, and earlier this month in the UK a 19-year-old man claimed his iPhone 5s exploded while travelling on a fast moving train.