An iPad Air spontaneously combusted this week in a Vodafon store in Canberra, Australia, filling the store with smoke and sending a continuous stream of sparks flying from the charging port of the device. The store was evacuated, the fire brigade was called, and the spectacular flaming tablet was officially extinguished. No one was injured in the fireworks. The iPad Air, however, could not be resuscitated.
The above is the charred and blackened iPad Air in question. As you can see, it is, as us technology gurus say, extremely dead. That is how it appeared after the fire brigade arrived; whether they had to use a full-on fire hose and for how long the fireworks lasted before being put out are unclear. An Apple employee reportedly went to the Vodafon store and picked up the corpse for an official autopsy.
One commentator suggests the cause of the high-tech firestorm may have been a faulty overcharge protection circuit. Lithium polymer batteries of the type installed on iPad Airs tend to explode when overcharged, so most devices making use of those types of batteries also come with the protection circuits. The iPad Air is no exception; it's just that this particular iPad Air just didn't receive the standard issue circuit, it appears, or it was installed less than flawlessly.
Apple hasn't yet issued an official statement about the cause of the explosion. There have been reports of iPhones and other smartphones exploding in the past, but this is the first publicly known incident involving an Apple tablet. For now, it's safe to say your brand-new iPad Air probably won't blow up while you're reading SlashGear, as this is the only reported case since the Retina tablet debuted Nov. 1.