back to article Beijing fanboi in coma after iPhone 4 shock treatment

A 30-year old man has been in a coma in a Beijing hospital for over ten days after being electrocuted whilst charging his iPhone 4, the second such incident reported in China this week. Wu Jiantong is now breathing unassisted and undergoing hyperbaric oxygen treatment in an effort to help his brain recover, according to …

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  1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

    Electrocuted?

    He's doing pretty well for someone who was killed by an electric shock.

    1. Gray Ham

      Re: Electrocuted?

      The definition has probably changed over the years - the Oxford dictionary defines electrocute as "to injure or kill" by electric shock.

    2. LarsG
      Meh

      Re: Electrocuted? I'm taking no chances

      Now this could be a 'jump on the band wagon to get compensation' ploy....

      BUT

      I am taking no chances and have put a rubber case on my phone, just in case!

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. John Tserkezis

        Re: Electrocuted? I'm taking no chances

        Are you serious?

        Have you considered reading the story, and in both cases, cheap knockoff chargers were used instead of real Apple gear.

        Or are you so loyal to your iBrand that you'll take ANYTHING that's a knockoff, above something trivial - like, er, your safety?

        Holy crap, am I standing up for Apple build quality? Quick, someone hand me a Dr Pepper, I have to get this horrible taste out of my mouth...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Electrocuted?

      All you need to know about electrocution https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_shock

      Hair raising stuff

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Interestingly, left my iPhone on the dash in the car yesterday.... For a little while, tried to make a call, almost burnt my hand and noticed a warning triangle on the screen which said,

      "Warning your phone is too hot to make a call!"

      Didn't explode though.

      Thought the warning triangle was cool though.

    5. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      Re: Electrocuted?

      Obviously, the Chinese are made of stern stuff. To be able to say "I'm being electrocuted" while being electrocuted is no mean feat. As someone who has been hit by 220V more than once, I can say that even managing "oh, f*ck!" during the process is not so easy.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Pint

        Re: Electrocuted?

        "Obviously, the Chinese are made of stern stuff. To be able to say "I'm being electrocuted" while being electrocuted is no mean feat."

        You're overlooking something important: the major differences in the language.

        Chinese and Japanese are what I like to call very "direct" languages, the meaning of a sentence depends a lot on context and doesn't use verbs like we do.

        In this case it's more likely he said something in the likes of: "I electrocuted" where the latter would be shortened too.

        According to electronic translations he would have said: "Wǒ chùdiàn". And I somewhat imagine that he'd shortened it to "wo chu!".

        Which is a lot shorter than "I'm being electrocuted".

      2. Darryl

        Re: Electrocuted?

        In my experience, what I usually manage to say is 'uuunnnniinnnnuuuuhh' or something similar

  2. messele

    Hmmm

    Three incidents in a short space of time, all in the same country. A country with an insatiable appetite for knock-offs and a solid reputation for shaky power distribution.

    Nothing reported in the rest of the world where the majority of devices are sold.

    I'm calling BS on the entire thing.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Coat

      Re: Hmmm

      Yes, they've had a shocking reputation for dodgy look-alike products in the past.

    2. tirk

      Re: Hmmm

      At least one case seems to be down to a fake charger:

      http://tinyurl.com/nb72tpf

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmmm

      The later incident was a genuine charger.

      1. jai

        Re: Hmmm

        The later incident was a genuine charger.

        No, it was a third-party one as well:

        http://www.zdnet.com/cn/another-iphone-shock-case-in-china-leaves-man-in-coma-7000018276/

      2. Code Monkey
        Joke

        Re: Hmmm

        The later incident was a genuine charger.

        ... or at least that's what the bloke down the market said.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hmmm

        In China it can be very hard to know what is genuine or fake. You can often buy about 4 different versions of a product and only one is genuine, they all look alike. Due to them being rip off products they're not very forthcoming in terms of putting the manufacturers name on such products either, so you have to look at the PCB for clues.

        Just look at all the Foscam IP camera clones for instance, there's loads.

    4. andreas koch
      Black Helicopters

      @ messele - Re: Hmmm

      Of course it's BS. As long as America accuses Huawei of spying, China will accuse Apple of frying.

      1. ceayers

        Re: @ messele - Hmmm

        trouble is ALL apple hardware both 'real' and is all made in China

        1. messele

          Re: @ messele - Hmmm

          This has nothing to do with where the goods are made evidently. It has everything to do with where goods are designed, the specification of components and whether safety standards are adhered to, if they even exist in the first place.

          Cheap junk is cheap junk. Who'd have thought that it costs money to do things properly?

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Until these devices are proved to be 'real Apple iToys'

    AND totally unmodified AND using proper chargers

    The fanboi community will think that these events are nowt more than attempts by Samsung to discredit their shiny-shiny Apple God.

    When will be we seeing the publication of equivalent 'Shock horror, Samsung shiny toy is crap!' news? Nah, thought not, as those wouldn't get the page hits now would they?

    ElReg is really sinking to level of the Daily-star here.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Until these devices are proved to be 'real Apple iToys'

      Was he really using an Apple iPhone 4 or was it a Gangwonk iWone 4GT with instant charger?

      我越来越

      伤害

      为什么我的头发着火

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Until these devices are proved to be 'real Apple iToys'

      Well there was a case of a girl burnt by an S3 recently.

    3. Goldmember
      Facepalm

      Re: Until these devices are proved to be 'real Apple iToys'

      "When will be we seeing the publication of equivalent 'Shock horror, Samsung shiny toy is crap!' news? Nah, thought not, as those wouldn't get the page hits now would they?"

      Fool! Less than 2 weeks ago the Reg reported a Galaxy that combusted inside a woman's pocket:

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/07/08/samsung_galaxy_s3_explodes_causing_second_and_third_degree_burns/

      I'm no fanboi, but this isn't an issue with Apple. This is about buying cheap, Chinese-made electronic crap and plugging it into the mains. The moral of the story? Don't risk it with chargers; always buy genuine.

  5. Richard Jones 1
    Stop

    I'm No Fan

    While I am no fan of Apple, this is not an Apple story.

    It is cautionary tale of how junk electrical rubbish is dangerous. Chargers adapters and the like made in Chinese 'knock off' shops regularly appear in trading standards reports. Has no one seen the shots of these 'devices' exploding or having live parts waiting to be touched?

    It is sad that people are dying as a result of this rubbish, but it should urge us all to be selective about what we purchase and use.

    Oh and I am NOT suggesting "buy only apple", I am just suggesting to be careful about what one does buy and use.

    1. swissrobin

      Re: I'm No Fan

      "Oh and I am NOT suggesting "buy only apple", I am just suggesting to be careful about what one does buy and use."

      It's pretty tough when buying these types of things ... who sells good stuff and who sells rubbish? The people that make and sell this stuff have no qualms about applying CE labelling, the double isolation symbol, etc., with no actual safety testing having ever been done. They copy the enclosure of real parts, so it's hard to tell what's what.

      For Apple users, if you buy a product from an Apple outlet it is going to be fine (ignoring the very unlikely chance of them having been duped by their own suppliers).

      For the rest of us, if it came with your telephone and you bought it in the UK from one of the carriers, it'll be OK.

      If you buy a Belkin product from a reputable outlet, you'll also be OK. I cannot think of another name brand off the top of my head - there might be one.

      If you buy a no-name product from a PhoneShop type of place I think you're risking it - they can source product from wherever and they'll go for maximum margin whilst assuming that the safety stuff is all fine.

      Anything from eBay, Amazon, a market stall, etc., I would say you're asking for trouble.

      The only way to be sure is to buy 2, crack one open and look inside, but unless you've got a reasonable grasp of the safety standards, that won't help.

      Is it worth risking your life over £20?

      1. wowfood

        Re: I'm No Fan

        Just on the point of the 'they have no problem putting a CE label on it" part.

        http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/51/CE_marks.jpg/220px-CE_marks.jpg

        The CE on many of thsoe devices is china export, not the europian conformance mark. I kinda wish that they'd change the EU one so it's more distinct, since China won't change theirs.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I'm No Fan

          There was an extensive discussion a few months ago on the Raspberry Pi site about the alleged significance of the China Export mark.

          I think they councluded it was irrelevant, but icbw.

          Either way, it highlights the uselessness of "tick the box" based quality audit (found everywhere from consumer electronics to stuff that flies commercial passengers), rather than having proper engineers/technicians do properly sampled relevant quality tests at the point where equipment enters into a given market (and before, where appropriate, e.g for stuff that flies commercial passengers).

        3. Peter Simpson 1
          Stop

          Re: I'm No Fan

          "The CE on many of thsoe devices is china export, not the europian conformance mark. "

          "China Export", my ass!

          It's a fake of the CE mark, designed to fool people yet be just different enough that the manufacturer thinks they can get away with it in a court of law.

          1. Richard 12 Silver badge
            FAIL

            Re: I'm No Fan

            It's irrelevant whether or not it's got the letters "CE" on it.

            The act of importing a device for sale into the EU that does not meet the CE requirements is illegal, and the importer is the one held liable.

            Most of the "China-tat" chargers are bloody dangerous.

        4. MJI Silver badge

          Re: I'm No Fan

          I would prefer BSI

        5. Jim Lewis

          Re: I'm No Fan

          There woudl be no point because whatever the European CE mark is changed to the Chinese will simply copy, as they have done with 'China Export'.

      2. Peter Simpson 1
        Mushroom

        Re: I'm No Fan

        I have personally seen ... and disassembled, dodgy Chines-manufactured kit with all kinds of official looking certification lables on it. After looking inside, I highly doubt the labels were genuine (in the sense that the equipment they were on had been tested and certified to comply with the regs).

        I have also seen Chinese stuff with counterfeit branding, some of it very good.

        It's a real problem. How do you know that the cheap wall-wart you just purchased is safe? Short answer: you don't. The solution? Use it safely. Don't handle it when you're soaking wet, just out of the shower. Wear shoes, or stand on dry wood or vinyl flooring. Think before you grab. Use a GFI outlet.

        // need an electric shock icon...

  6. Mondo the Magnificent
    Coat

    While we're on the subject..

    There has been a reported surge in iPhone chargers causing problems, with the Chinese government are considering charging Apple for selling faulty equipment. Apple are shocked by these claims...

    1. Great Bu
      Coat

      Re: While we're on the subject..

      Do these phones have a thunderbolt port ?

  7. BornToWin

    Very strange

    They must use 10,000 volt grid power in China?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Obviously, holding it wrong.

    1. AMB-York Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Beat me to it.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Typical - title reads "Another jolt for Apple" but then it says it was not an official charger.

    Personally I am amazed people will skimp a few pounds on cheap / copy chargers that clearly are not made to the same standards and for something that's often plugged in 24x7 I'd rather something better made.

  10. Lord Elpuss Silver badge
    FAIL

    El Reg seems to really want to live in interesting times

    I know I'm simply repeating what others have said before me, but THIS WAS A FRICKING KNOCK-OFF CHARGER. Although the facts are not all in yet, the probability that a genuine Apple iPhone was defective to the point of giving an electric shock (as the headline implies, nay states) is pretty much nil.

    However never let the facts get in the way of good clickbait, eh Reg?

  11. simlb
    Coat

    "Apple couldn’t immediately be reached for comment"

    Because they either didn't want to answer your call for fear of being electrocuted, or because their phone was on fire. Take your pick.

    Mine's the one with the semaphore instructions in the pocket.

  12. anoncow

    I haven't seen this mentioned yet: milling the case out of solid alluminum looks shiny and sells phones, but maybe it kills people too.

    1. Roo
      Boffin

      Lack of an adequate earth connection doesn't help either. I was surprised that Apple went for aluminium casing given that much of their home market doesn't really understand the importance of hooking up electrical gear to earth properly.

      1. Andrew Jones 2
        Mushroom

        The majority of phone (and tablet) chargers these days have a plastic earth pin, they are not earthed.....

        It's always difficult to tell with these stories what exactly is faulty.

        A phone (or tablet) being fed with more than 5-12v should just die (possibly explode), the thin flimsy cable between the charger and the phone should get very upset at carrying something more like mains down it - and the charger itself if being told by the phone to consume more than it is rated for should go bang too.....

        If however the charger is crap with very little in the way of safety features AND the phone is a cheap knockoff with very little safety features........

        1. Tony W

          The leccy

          A badly designed and faulty charger could put mains voltage on the USB cable, which could easily carry that voltage and enough current to give a dangerous shock without breaking down. But I don't know if the metal body of a phone would be electrically connected to the charging circuit. Or maybe it could be isolated by a component that would break down under mains voltage. Either way a phone with exposed metalwork would be dangerous. Yet another reason to put your phone in a non-conductive case?

          In the most likely scenario, the person grasping the phone would have to be earthed to receive a dangerous shock. For example by also touching anything metal that was earthed, like a water tap or kitchen appliance or by standing on damp ground. There are a lot of possibilities. Touching the phone with one hand and earhing the other would be the most dangerous as the current would pass through the chest and affect the heart.

          On a phone with no easily touched metal parts such a fault might not even be noticed, as it might still get charged.

          Quite possibly it would need a combination of two faults to give a dangerous shock. With so many people using phones, a statistically rare combination of faults could easily happen in a few cases.

  13. Dick Pountain
    Meh

    Too Severe?

    I think electrocution is too severe a punishment for buying Apple products: they should reduce it to a moderate prison sentence

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re. Too severe

    Having been zapped before, I can vouch for mains making you lose muscle control.

    It really isn't very funny, neither is trying to explain to SWMBO why the tripswitch just went for the 3rd time in one evening (caused by defective appliance with intermittent mains leakage in element)

    The problem is that if a single point failure happens then everything connected to the charger becomes a mains carrier at between 0.1 and 100mA. 10mA is the lower threshold for death.

    As the transformer is otherwise isolated the unfortunate person becomes the return path with higher current in damp conditions, bare feet etc.

    Yes the phone can work fine but it is a disaster waiting to happen with these cheap chargers, which is why PAT testers use 1KV and over to make sure it can't break down with the slightest mains surge.

  15. Lord-a-miytee

    "Apple couldn’t immediately be reached for comment."

    Did you try calling them?

    After all, why would they not pick up the 'phone?

  16. JaitcH

    All Chinese homes are equipped with a circuit breaker

    Unlike the West, many countries are somewhat economical in their use of circuit breakers.

    Typically a house has a meter, which has a supply company breaker to protect their gear. Then there is another breaker where the power feed from the meter enters the premises.

    After that there is a junction box where all the house wiring is attached to. This means be it light, power socket or water heater the SOLE protection is a breaker way, way too high in rating for individual outlets.

    So when an attached appliance catches fire/shorts the 40 Amp breaker almost guarantees a dangerous situation.

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