Police Investigating Suspicious iPhone Death

Dennis Faas's picture

Apple says it will fully cooperate with police investigating the suspicious death of an iPhone 5 user. The Chinese woman is believed to have been electrocuted, with the phone charger at the center of the investigation.

Ma Ailun of the northwestern Chinese region Xingiang recently died while picking up her iPhone as it was being charged. Reports are split as to whether she was making or answering a call.

It's reported the deceased had just got out of the bath before using the phone. If she was still wet, that may have affected the danger of electrocution.

For some time experts have debated the potential risk of using a charging handset. The consensus seems to be that normally it is completely safe because charger cables only carry a small current. It's believed that current isn't powerful enough to deliver an electric shock most humans would even notice.

Faulty Charger Could Carry Lethal Current

However, it also appears possible that two circumstances could cause a user to get hit with the full force of the supply from the electrical outlet. First, receiving such a shock is possible if the plug is not properly earthed.

Second, it's possible someone could be electrocuted if a wire in the charger cable was damaged. In this scenario, the phone user acts as a path for the electricity to reach the ground. Of course, a person would be particularly vulnerable if they were wet.

Some sources are speculating that the extreme heat of a Xingiang summer, which can hit more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, may have increased the risk of electrical failure. (Source: guardian.co.uk)

There have been rumors of similar deaths in China and India, though officials in those countries have not confirmed such reports. In one of those cases a man was supposedly using a cheaper, third-party charger.

Deceased Was Using Official iPhone Charger

The woman's family says she bought the phone last December and was using the original, official Apple charger at the time of her death. Police have collected the phone and charger for closer investigation.

Apple is not commenting on the specifics of the case but did release this statement:

"We are deeply saddened to learn of this tragic incident and offer our condolences to the Ma family. We will fully investigate and co-operate with authorities in this matter." (Source: bbc.co.uk)

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