How can you protect yourself from a phenomenon that, albeit rarely, can occur
Smartphones are beautiful. The explosions as well, at least when they are seen in the movies. The combination of the former with the latter, however, is not so fascinating. From time to time we hear reports of exploding cell phones, quite worrying because they can also cost the lives of their owners.
Despite being (fortunately) a very rare case, Samsung was forced to recall the full range of Note 7 after over 35 cases of smartphone explosions were reported. Since the Note 7 fiasco there have been a few other isolated cases of smartphones exploding and catching fire.
To be able to protect you adequately we explain what are the main reasons why smartphones explode (of course, very rarely!) And we explain what you should do to avoid taking risks.
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What can make a smartphone's batteries explode?
While manufacturing defects are the main reasons why smartphones explode, there are also circumstances, on the part of the user, that could lead a battery to explode. Here are the main reasons:
1) Manufacturing defects
A batch of faulty batteries (as happened with Note 7), the use of a wrong component or a fault in the production line that damages a component are all causes of a malfunction for a battery. When at least one of these factors occurs, it is difficult to avoid an explosion.
A design full of inaccuracies and counterfeit products are also major causes of battery malfunctions or even explosions. This is likely to be seen in cheap products or from manufacturers who go out of their way to save. Many of the cheap and counterfeit products do not offer the security features offered by the most famous brands.
2) Internal cracks
An internal crack, hypothetically caused by dropping the phone, can cause the battery to swell and eventually explode. A violent fall can shatter the thin material of the batteries that separates the cells, which can lead to an internal short circuit which in turn can lead to explosions.
In the event of a fall, most users rush to technical assistance to have the screen repaired. However, many underestimate the impact the fall may have had on the battery. That is, that both the mechanical and chemical structure could also be altered. These changes can cause the battery's protective circuitry to be damaged.
If you have dropped your mobile phone several times, you should be careful of:
- excessive heat generation, especially when charging
- the mobile restarts by itself
- the battery discharging too quickly
- the mobile phone that does not charge after being plugged into the socket
If you notice any of these signs you should think about replacing the cell phone battery.
3) Excessive heat
Excessive heat can rupture the internal cells in the battery, also causing an internal short circuit. This can only occur in extremely high temperatures, unless the battery is damaged. Excessive heat can result from overcharging, because the battery receives more current than it can safely handle.
If excessive heat builds up in the battery, a reaction known as a "runaway" occurs, which refers to a situation where a rise in temperature changes the chemical reactions in a way that causes a further rise in temperature. In other words, instead of helping the battery cool, the runaway accelerates the temperature rise. And it makes explosions more likely.
There are many factors that can cause the mobile phone to heat up naturally: one of them is playing video games that put a lot of stress on the video section of the mobile phone. While the smartphone can handle these functions without problems in a normal environment, if the mobile is overheated the effect on the battery could be very negative.
4) Use the wrong charger
Using the wrong or faulty charger could cause an explosion, because the charger could supply more power than the battery can handle. In addition, manufacturers of cheap chargers often fail to comply with the safety requirements required by USB devices. These chargers often use poor quality materials or threads that are too thin.
How to protect yourself?
Now that you know the reasons why smartphone batteries can explode, here are the steps you can take to prevent such accidents:
- Do not charge your mobile phone in bed: of course, it can be a very common thing, to watch a movie while lying in bed and at the same time charge the smartphone. But know that it is a very risky thing, because you can easily fall asleep on it and make it overheat.
- Use only branded chargers: if possible, always use the charger supplied with your mobile phone. In this way the mobile phone will receive the optimum voltage and current.
- Buy devices from reputable merchants: Nowadays, online shops are flooded with cloned products, and it may be difficult to distinguish real ones from counterfeits.
- Always let your mobile cool: If it gets hot while charging, unplug it to allow it to cool down. Avoid using it or keeping it in too hot environments.
- If a device suffers a recall, please make sure you return it as soon as possible.