Apple is investigating the circumstances behind a widely circulated video showing a partially melted, smoking iPhone 7 Plus, the result of what appears to be a major device malfunction, reports said late Thursday.
On Wednesday, Brianna Olivas posted to Twitter a video of smoke billowing from a large crack in her rose gold iPhone 7 Plus. Seen below, the footage reveals a large section of the iPhone's display pulling away from its aluminum chassis anchoring, then delaminating from its coverglass only seconds later.
As of this writing, Olivas' video accumulated well over 1 million views and has been retweeted more than 22,000 times.
In a statement to Mashable, Olivas said she experienced problems powering up her device, which was purchased from a Sprint store in January, just one day prior to the video. She took the phone in to an Apple store for testing, but employees — presumably Geniuses — found the device to be working normally.
The next morning, Olivas had the iPhone charging next to her head. Her boyfriend, rather fortuitously, moved it to a nearby dresser as he made his way to the restroom, moments later seeing the device "steaming" and making a "squealing" noise. He quickly grabbed the iPhone and put it on Olivas' bathroom sink, where the device "blew up."
While the exact cause of the meltdown is unknown, the wispy white smoke is indicative of a catastrophic battery pack failure in which vaporized electrolyte material is emitted. The event, sometimes caused by a thermal runaway, is often characterized by the cascading disintegration of neighboring cells.
Beyond what appears to be a bulging effect where the iPhone 7 Plus battery pack lives, the presence of chemical stains seen on the damaged device's exterior further support the theory of a battery failure.
In any case, Olivas has since handed the phone over to Apple. The company has yet to issue an explanation of the incident, saying only, "We are in touch with the customer and looking into it."
Though smartphone users have for years been aware of rare battery malfunctions, consumers are perhaps more sensitive to the dangers of lithium-ion cell failures after Samsung's recent Galaxy Note 7 fiasco brought the issue to the fore. Shortly after the Korean tech giant launched its Note 7 phablet last year, users began to complain of exploding or combusting handsets. As reports piled in, Samsung was forced to halt shipments in late August, later deciding to activate a voluntary global recall of some 2.5 million devices.