Apple recalls millions of iPhone 3G power adapters

Apple recalled all power adapters it packaged with iPhone 3G phones sold since mid-July in Canada, the U.S., Japan, Mexico and several Central and South American countries.

The number of affected users will be in the millions. Recent analyst estimates have pegged iPhone 3G sales as high as six million since its July debut, with the U.S. market remaining Apple’s largest. Apple has not stated its quarterly iPhone 3G sales, but CEO Steve Jobs said the company had sold more than one million in its first weekend of availability.

The adapters, a redesign from the bulkier version included with the first generation iPhone, pose a shock hazard, said Apple in a release. The company will exchange all eligible adapters free of charge through mail-in or walk-in programs at its own retail stores starting Oct. 10.

“Under certain conditions the new ultracompact Apple USB power adapter’s metal prongs can break off and remain in a power outlet, creating a risk of electric shock,” said Apple, which said that although it had received reports of broken prongs, no injuries had been reported.

Apple told users to immediately stop using the small adapters, which are about the size of the plug end of an extension cord.

In lieu of the adapters, and until replacements are received, users should charge their iPhone 3G phones by connecting them to their Mac or PC with the USB cable that came with their iPhone, Apple said. Alternately, users can turn to third-party adapters designed for the iPhone — such as car chargers — or the larger-sized USB adapter that Apple sells for $29. Ultracompact adapters purchased separately by customers may also be eligible for replacement.

Adapters identified by a green dot on the bottom, however, are replacements that are said to be safe to use. Adapters sold with the first-generation iPhone, and those packaged or sold separately with iPhone 3G phones in other countries, are also not affected.

iPhone 3G owners can order a replacement online, or by taking their current adapter to an Apple retail store starting Oct. 10. Online orders, however, won’t begin shipping until Oct. 10. Owners will need to provide Apple with a mailing address as well as their iPhone 3G’s serial number if ordering a replacement online; those who ask for a replacement at an Apple store starting next month must also bring in their iPhone 3G.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission did not issue an accompanying alert, as it sometimes does when companies recall defective products.

Apple last launched a major safety recall in August 2006 when it recalled some 1.8 million lithium-ion batteries made by Sony Corp. that had been sold with its iBook and PowerBook notebooks. Last month, Apple’s Japanese subsidiary offered to replace iPod nano batteries because of overheatingissues. This is the first recall for the iPhone, which Apple launched in June 2007 and then relaunched in its current 3G form on July 11 of this year.

Apple last Friday announced safety alert aimed at all iPhone 3G owners in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and several Latin American countries.

The ultracompact power adapter is included with all iPhone 3Gs sold in those countries. The program allows users of iPhone 3G units with the ultracompact USB power adapter to exchange it, free of charge. Apple has initiated the exchange because of a safety issue.

“Apple has determined that under certain conditions the new ultracompact Apple USB power adapter’s metal prongs can break off and remain in a power outlet, creating a risk of electric shock. We have received reports of detached blades involving a very small percentage of the adapters sold, but no injuries have been reported,” said Apple.

Apple advises users who are using the ultracompact adapter that came with their iPhone 3G to stop using them immediately until they receive a new, redesigned adapter. Users should recharge their iPhone 3G’s battery with the USB cable that came with their iPhone, connected to a computer, or by using a standard-sized Apple USB Power Adapter (with fold-up prongs), or with a third-party adapter designed to work with the iPhone.

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