With the ongoing Galaxy Note 7 exploding battery fiasco, you might be wondering 'Will my phone explode?' It's a legitimate safety concern so we've put together this guide on how to stop your battery exploding and your phone setting fire. Also see: best phones 2016.
The Galaxy Note 7 barely got on sale before Samsung pulled it from the hands of excited consumers. There were serious safety concerns after multiple units burst into flames, and more so when the replacement units also caught fire.
Samsung has been conducting a thorough investigation into why the Note 7 exploded, and on 23 January 2017 it confirmed that the problems with its Note 7 were caused by the batteries themselves, and nothing to do with the hardware or software of the phone.
It said: “A short circuit within the battery may occur when there is damage to the separator that allows the positive and negative electrodes to meet within the jellyroll. Based on a detailed analysis of the affected batteries, both Battery A from the first recall and Battery B from the second recall, we identified separate factors that originated in and were specific to the two different batteries.”
For Battery A, it found “The negative electrode was deflected in the upper-right corner of the battery.” Also that “The tip of the negative electrode was incorrectly located in the curve, not the planar area.”
For Battery B, Samsung said: “High welding burrs on the positive electrode resulted in the penetration of the insulation tape and separator which then caused direct contact between the positive tab with the negative electrode.” Also, “A number of batteries were missing insulation tape.”
While it's not just the Note 7 which has exploded (iPhones, BlackBerrys and other devices have done the same), we've not seen something on this scale before. Whatever phone, tablet or laptop you have, here are our tips on staying safe and how to stop your phone battery exploding.
Why do phone batteries explode or catch fire?
That's a tricky question to answer in a neat way because there are a few reasons why a phone battery might go wrong. Sometimes it's very much an isolated incident while others, like the Note 7, have a fundamental flaw.
There are two main causes of Lithium-ion batteries going wrong and the first is when one gets wounded – and by that we mean a break, piercing or similar. This could be caused by dropping your phone but however it happens, the battery can short circuit (and not in the good Johnny 5 way) causing it to expand and potentially explode.
Heat is the other main cause of battery fires and is usually related to charging when it comes to phones – this seems to be when most of the Note 7s went wrong. Charging a battery will result in some heat and if the temperature gets too high then an internal short circuit can occur – it's not always because the battery itself is faulty. If your battery can't cool down quick enough 'thermal runaway' can happen where a chain reaction accelerates the increase of temperature which is a recipe for disaster.
With recent technology such as fast charging and the latest processors, there's more heat in today's phones than previously. The design of a phone may also be detrimental, like trying to fit a large battery into a very thin phone, not ensuring heat is dissipated or components being places too close together.
How to stop your phone battery exploding
Our advice to Note 7 owners is to stop using the phone and return it for a full refund or a different phone – it's really not worth the risk even if it appears to be working fine. The following tips can be applied to any phone (and other electronic devices like tablets) to avoid failures, explosions or fires.
• Use the correct charger – Ideally, use the supplied charger with your device.
• Unplug once charged – Try and be aware of when your phone is fully charged and unplug it to avoid unnecessary heat build-up.
• Charge in a safe place – it might sound silly but don't leave your phone charging under your pillow all night, for example.
• Remove cases – a case is like putting a jacket on and will restrict heat dissipation so take it off to charge or other heat inducing tasks.
• Avoid direct sunlight – your phone won't get a tan but the sun will heat it up so don’t leave it places like your car dashboard, especially when charging.
• Let your phone cool – whether you're charging, gaming or something else; let your phone cool down if it gets hot.
• Avoid pressure – you don't want the battery to get a puncture so don't sit on it or allow it to come under excessive pressure.
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