Taradale resident Darryl Whiting is blaming a phone for destroying his car.

He said the iPhone 5 belonged to an EIT homestay student who had difficulty charging it on Friday afternoon.

"It wouldn't turn on - there was obviously some kind of fault with it," he said.

"We were going to take it to a repair place to see why the thing wasn't working. We put it on the seat, went inside for a cup of coffee and next thing the car is destroyed."

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He said there was no need to call the Napier fire brigade because the fire went out on its own.

"It all happened very quickly. We didn't notice the fire - we went inside for a coffee and to check Facebook and then went to the car to go and . . . hello."

Photos he took show the phone at the seat of the fire, which destroyed the immediate interior and smoke damaged the rest.

"The cost of repair would exceed the value of the car, so it's a write-off."

He is not too upset about his Nissan station wagon - it is fully insured and he is looking forward to a new car.

He said Apple were taking the matter very seriously and responded well. Pictures he took of the phone and the scene were forwarded to its Singapore safety division. He expects to hear from it today.

The iPhone 5, released in 2012, has a very good safety record unlike the Samsung Galaxy Note 7.

Samsung's phone was launched on August 19 to critical acclaim and high demand but by the end of the month reports of explosions came from around the world.

Photo / Duncan Brown
Photo / Duncan Brown

It issued a recall and in a PR disaster some of the supposedly safe replacement phones overheated, with one grounding a plane.

Production was halted.

Credit Suisse analysts estimated Samsung would lose about US$17 billion ($24.4b) from the debacle.