Mobile // Mobile Devices
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5/19/2009
04:01 PM
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Apple Warns Of (Ouch!) Earbud Electrical Shocks

Common causes of static electricity buildup in iPhone and iPod earbuds include windy, dry environments; wearing synthetic fibers; and jogging, according to Apple.

Apple on Tuesday warned that static electricity buildup in iPhone and iPod earbuds could give users a "small and quick" shock.

The warning on Apple's support site said people wearing the earbuds in areas where the air is very dry are most apt to receive the static shocks. The condition is similar to when a person drags his feet on a carpet and gets shocked when touching a door knob.

"It's possible to receive a small and quick electrical (static) shock from your earbuds while listening to iPod or iPhone," Apple said.

The company did not mention reports of static shocks, but a quick search of iPhone discussion forums uncovered some complaints. "Maybe it's just me, but for a couple of weeks now my earphones are delivering little electric shocks into my ears," one iPhone owner said. "As much as I love to procrastinate I am getting really tired (and hurt) so ... I just wonder if anyone else is going through this issue."

Another user wrote: "I was wearing them tonight and I too received tiny electric shocks in both ears. It felt like mild static electricity, but I was just walking in and back out of the grocery store."

Earbud shocks do not necessarily indicate a problem with the accessory or with the iPod or iPhone, the company said. "This condition is not limited to Apple hardware and static can potentially build up on almost any hardware and could be discharged using any brand of earbuds."

Apple said static buildup in earbuds is most common in environments with very low humidity and very windy environments. The condition also can be caused by taking the iPhone and iPod in and out of a pocket, jogging, or wearing clothes made of synthetic fibers, such as nylon, which can become charged on their own.

Apple lists a number of ways to avoid getting shocked. Its suggestions include wearing clothing made of natural fibers, keeping the iPod or iPhone out of the wind, and not frequently removing the devices from pockets.


What's the state of wireless adoption in the enterprise today? Take part in our survey by June 2 and let us know. Upon completion, you'll be eligible to enter a drawing to receive one Apple 16-GB iPod Touch valued at $299.

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