Shanghai — Apple has blamed "external physical damage" for causing a handful of iPhones to explode or catch fire in China and insisted its handsets were safe. Fresh on the heels of Samsung’s worldwide Galaxy Note 7 safety fiasco, a Shanghai consumer watchdog said last Friday it had received eight recent reports of iPhones that spontaneously combusted while being used or charged. The US tech giant said it had retrieved units for analysis and conducted thorough tests on phones that had experienced "thermal events", but brushed off safety concerns. The company also denied being slow to respond, after the state-run Shanghai Consumer Council had urged it to deal with consumer complaints. One woman was quoted as saying in the watchdog’s report, her iPhone 6s Plus exploded in August, shattering the screen and leaving the battery and back of the phone blackened. The council said it had received a sixfold surge in total complaints against Apple in the past two months, including sudden shutdo...

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