You Never Know When Your Smartphone Will Try to Kill You

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NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 20:  Gregory Rocco, of Brooklyn, New York, looks at an iPhone 5C on display at the Fifth Avenue Apple store on September 20, 2013 in New York City. Apple launched two new models of iPhone: the iPhone 5S, which is preceded by the iPhone 5, and a cheaper, paired down version, the iPhone 5C. The phones come with a new operating system.  (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Photo: Andrew Burton/2013 Getty Images

Sure, your smartphone is your friend — until it turns on you. WABC brings us the terrifying story of Erik Johnson, a 29-year-old Long Island man who was badly injured after his iPhone 5C’s lithium ion battery exploded. 

Johnson and his brother had just arrived at their cousin’s New Jersey wake when disaster struck: 

I had the phone in my pocket, simple little gesture, bent over to get keys and all I heard was pop. Sssssh smoke coming out,” Johnson said. “And just like an instant burn, my leg just starts going on fire, try to get it out, can’t get it out. I was literally jumping up and down trying to get the phone out of my pocket, but I think the phone melted my pockets shut so I couldn’t get into it and I had to rip my pants off and throw the pants to the side. A couple of people actually said they could smell my body burning.”

The iPhone’s metal case melted and fused to its back. We hope it was worth it, iPhone. 

Johnson spent ten days in the hospital receiving treatment for second- and third-degree burns on his inner thigh. Unsurprisingly, he’s exploring the possibility of suing Apple. “Obviously Apple has to take a closer look at what they’re putting out in the stream of commerce before they go out and sell these items that could potentially be this dangerous,” said Johnson’s lawyer, Mike Della. 

Johnson’s situation is rare, but not unprecedented: A similar thing happened to a Maine middle-schooler last year. Meanwhile, two people in the Czech Republic complained that their iPhones’ batteries swelled to twice their normal size. Those interested in avoiding a similar fate are advised to avoid overheating, overcharging, and applying large amounts of pressure to their devices. (The use of non-Apple chargers is also discouraged.) Good luck out there.