Apple investigating malfunctioning iPhone reports

Company says the incidents are isolated and denies a general problem

Apple is investigating reports that some of its popular iPhones may have malfunctioned following a query from a European Commission directorate that oversees consumer safety issues.

Apple told the Commission on Tuesday that "these are isolated incidents and that there is not a general problem," according to a statement issued by Directorate-General for Health and Consumers.

"For the cases which have been reported in the media, Apple [is] trying to get more information on the details of the incidents and will do tests as necessary to investigate the possible cause," the statement said.

An 18-year-old French teenager complained his eye was injured last week when his girlfriend's iPhone began making a hissing noise and the device's glass touchscreen shattered, according to a report in AFP. It wasn't clear which model of iPhone was affected.

In the U.K., a 47-year-old man from Liverpool told The Times earlier this month that his daughter's iPod Touch made a hissing noise and exploded after he dropped it.

In an incident in the Netherlands, an iPhone 3G was reportedly sitting in a car when the owner returned to find it was destroyed, burning a huge hole in the vehicle's seat.

Apple's U.K. office said: "We are aware of these media reports, and we are waiting to receive the iPhones from the customers. Until we have the full details, we don't have anything further to add."

The Commission also asked Apple about reports of malfunctioning iPods.

A Seattle TV station, KIRO-TV, reported last month that after many months of trying it obtained more than 800 pages of documents from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission that detailed 15 incidents of faulty iPods, causing fires or burning their owners.

Faulty lithium ion batteries are often the cause of overheating problems with consumer electronics.

In June, the South Korean government asked Apple to recall its first-generation iPod Nano following four incidents since December 2008 where batteries overheated or exploded.

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Jeremy Kirk

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