We have done some research, and it appears than the rumors of iPhones exploding all around the world—"world" as in "France, UK, and Belgium"—are greatly exaggerated. Here are all the known cases, and Apple's official answer. Updated
• 26-yo security guard Yassine Bouhadi claims that his iPhone exploded when he was texting his girlfriend. He claims that "a little bit of screen hit me in the eye and I had to remove it with a tweezer." Obviously, Yassine Bouhadi is a pseudonym for Chuck Norris.
• French teen Romain Kolega's mom claims that her son was also hit in the eye by a piece of glass from the handset, when it "suddenly broke." Reportedly, Romain's mom had an affair with Chuck Norris.
• A young guy called Raphael claims that his iPhone exploded too, but he was not injured. Allegedly, he watched a Chuck Norris movie once. Or maybe it was just a Steven Seagal one.
• 80-yo Roland Cauffman claims that he was injured too, according to this report. Perhaps the shockwave from the explosion broke his hip.
• The same happened to Valentine, a Parisian girl who claims her iPhone cracked when she was writing a text message. Maybe the phone self destructed after Valentine used LOL and XXXOOOXXX for the last 542 messages.
• Unlike Valentine, supermarket manager Fabrice Lerebourg got the same effect while—attention, s'il vous plaît!—downloading an iPhone app.
• Frank Benoiton says his iPhone 3G's screen broke suddenly while using it. One moment it was ok. The next, broken. Such is life. One moment you are here, the next you are gone.
• 40-yo Olivier Milano said that his iPhone "self-destructed" in his hand. Unconfirmed sources point that Milano likes to be called James by his friends.
• 20-yo Edward—in Marseille—says his screen broke too, also automagically.
• A teenage couple said that their iPhone's screen did the same after doing a "crackling" sound. One of them also got a glass shard in his eyes. His name was Richard. I call him Richard the Fake One-Eyed Pirate.
• Finally, a cellphone seller working for SFR claims that he has seen two iPhones imploding. Somehow, the iPhone owners managed to create black holes inside their handsets.
One thing is clear from all these cases: The iPhone hates French people. And really, who can blame it? I know I can't—but then again, I'm Spanish, and we hate them by default*. Like the rest of the European countries.
But that aside—looking at all these reports—it seems that a lot of people are trying to get free replacement iPhones following a media craze. At least, according to the Agence France Press, who has reported on Apple and the French consumer affairs minister's statements on the matter.
Talking to the AFP, Apple France declared that the reasons for the alleged "explosions" in this country is not the battery, but "external forces":
To date, there are no confirmed battery overheating incidents for iPhone 3GS and the number of reports we are investigating is in the single digits. The iPhones with broken glass that we have analysed to date show that in all cases the glass cracked due to an external force that was applied to the iPhone.
Apple France's commercial director Michel Coulomb met Herve Novelli—the French consumer affairs minister—to talk about the investigation by the state's consumer safety agency. According to Novellin, it seems that initial findings give the reason to Apple:
The first results show that the iPhones weren't damaged by a battery defect leading to an explosion, but that there had been a prior shock that cracked the screens.
So at least in France, the exploding reports seem like utter bollocking. However, we don't know yet about the following yet:
In the UK
• A girl said that her iPod touch exploded and Apple offered money to zip it. Obviously, she didn't. It's unclear if she asked to be a page 3 girl in The Sun. Oh, you little minx you.
• A boy called Salvatore said that his iPhone exploded "inside" when he was making a call. It's like when I eat too much pizza. Something always explodes inside. Then I poop it out. In his case, the iPhone kept it all inside, making the screen black.
Looking at all these cases, it doesn't seem like iPhones are exploding all over the world. More like there are a couple of alleged cases, and a bunch of people whining.
In other words: You don't need a bullet-proof vest to operate an iPhone or iPod touch. Carry on, people. Nothing to see here.
* OK, not all the French. Just the snotty ones.
Update: Check the inside testimony from an iPhone Tier 2 support agent here.