Jason Colon rolled the blackened Apple AirPod in his hand, still in disbelief that the wireless headphone had apparently blown apart moments after he removed it from his right ear.
He had been working out at LA Fitness on 4th Street in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Thursday, listening to dance music, when white smoke began to leak from the right headphone, Colon told WFLA, an NBC affiliate in Tampa. He removed both AirPods and left them on a piece of equipment as he went to seek help. When he returned, he was shocked to find the right headphone had shattered, he said. The left headphone remained intact.
“I didn’t, you know, see it happen, but I mean, it was already fried,” he told WFLA. “You can see where it looks like there’s flame damage.”
He said the incident was the “craziest thing I’ve ever went through” and was grateful he took the headphone out in time.
“I don’t know what would’ve happened to my ear,” Colon, a Tampa resident, told the station. “But I’m sure that since it hangs down, it could’ve been [my] ear lobe, you know, my ear lobe could’ve been burnt.”
Apple representatives could not be immediately reached for comment. An Apple spokesman told WFLA that it was investigating the incident and would reach out to Colon.
Trendy tech products have exploded before. The most notable, perhaps, is the Samsung Galaxy Note 7. The smartphone was touted in 2016 for its impressive battery but instead gained fame for being linked to “26 reports of burns and 55 reports of property damage, including fires in cars and a garage,” according to a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recall.
As The Washington Post’s Amy B Wang reported in 2016:
Such reports have continued to plague Samsung, which first issued a voluntary recall of its Galaxy Note 7 phones because of a “battery issue” on Sept. 2, offering to give replacement phones to customers who had bought the devices. The lithium-ion batteries in the phones could overheat and pose a safety risk, the company said after it had received a few dozen reports of Note 7 batteries catching on fire.
“To date (as of September 1) there have been 35 cases that have been reported globally and we are currently conducting a thorough inspection with our suppliers to identify possible affected batteries in the market,” the company said in a statement. “However, because our customers’ safety is an absolute priority at Samsung, we have stopped sales of the Galaxy Note 7.”
Problems with the Note 7 battery became so well-known that the phones were often singled out in airline boarding announcements.