Rumor: Using an iPhone while it's charging can cause electrocution

The iPhone 5 charging at an Apple Store.

Can using your Apple iPhone while it is plugged in and recharging really cause you to be electrocuted?

UNCONFIRMED: Though proponents face a long and difficult road

According to CNNMoney, 23-year-old Chinese stewardess Ma Ailun was killed by her charging iPhone 5 on July 11. The news was first circulated by the @Stewardess account on Chinese micro blogging site Weibo, and spread fast in a country that, like the U.S., is obsessed with Apple products.

As CNNMoney reports, details are still murky. Police in the province where the incident took place have apparently "confirmed to local reporters that [Ailun] was electrocuted, although they could not identify the source of the current that killed her." Ailun's family also confirmed that she was the owner of an iPhone 5, which she had had since December. According to the family, Ailun had just left a bath when she answered the call.

A danger of electrocution?

Rumor-busting site Snopes says that answering phones while they're charging poses almost no danger of electrocution. As Snopes puts it, "One sole occurrence points to a manufacturing defect in a particular unit, not to all mobile phones being capable of dealing death blows while recharging."

And as the Examiner puts it, "warnings about the threat of electrocution, if you use a cell phone while it's battery is being recharged, are gross exaggerations." However, its report looked at the case on a broader scale, to include all cell phones, not specifically iPhones. Examiner concluded that "using the wrong battery in your cell phone and using your cell phone in certain locations, could pose a hazard."

Yet it's not clear if Ailun's death could be the outlier. In a sign of how seriously they're taking the incident, notoriously tight-lipped Apple has even issued a statement to the South China Morning Post: "We are deeply saddened to learn of this tragic incident and offer our condolences to the...family. We will fully investigate and co-operate with authorities in this matter."

MSN News' attempts to get Apple to expand on that statement have thus far been unsuccessful.

 

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