Apple blames iPhone battery fires on 'external damage'

The company responds to a spate of "thermal events" in China.

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Apple says it's not to blame for a spate of iPhones apparently catching fire.

The Shanghai Consumer Council, a watchdog group in China, reported last week that eight iPhone 6 devices had spontaneously combusted. Apple's response is that "external damage" was to blame for these "thermal events" with the phone batteries.

"We have been in touch with the customers and retrieved these units for analysis," a spokesperson told CNET. "We do a thorough forensic investigation including CT scans, cross sections, and more. The units we've analyzed so far have clearly shown that external physical damage happened to them which led to the thermal event."

Batteries have been causing headaches for smartphone manufacturers over the past year. Apple exchanged iPhone 6 and 6S models in China after they switched themselves off before the battery was depleted, while Samsung was forced to recall millions of Galaxy Note 7 devices due to their tendency to overheat and catch fire.