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Why Do Phone Batteries Explode?

iOS 8

Samsung tells the press that it’s because the battery was manufactured incorrectly–but the Galaxy’s battery isn’t the first to explode in the history of cell phones.

Recently, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 has run into some battery issues.  According to a small population of customers, their phone battery simply overheated and exploded, causing a full recall of the product.  Samsung tells the press that it’s because the battery was manufactured incorrectly–but the Galaxy’s battery isn’t the first to explode in the history of cell phones.  What causes such modern technology to simply catch fire?  And why do we carry that around in our pockets?  Read on for a quick run-down of why batteries explode in the first place.

A Battery’s Components

 

Basically, all phones these days use a lithium ion battery, or an LI battery.  That’s because the material is cheap and conducts plenty of energy, so batteries last much longer.  The problem arises when we realize that we’re already using about 90% of the LI battery’s actual power in terms of battery life, and we can’t push it much further.  But with bigger screens and better processors, phones are advancing far faster than any batter that can be put in them.

 

Overcharging

 

Most phones are built in such a way that prevents them from being overcharged, because manufacturers know that we all leave our phones plugged in overnight.  So, no; this isn’t going to harm  your battery.  But if this technology doesn’t work properly, it can lead to battery swelling, and eventual explosion of the battery itself.  This is dangerous.  That’s why Samsung is immediately recalling all of their Note 7s, because it means there’s a serious issue with the way the batteries were made.

 

The Trade-Off

 

Faster-charging batteries are a risk.  With our current technology, we can’t charge phones much faster than we already can, and battery life can’t really be extended.  While you may think your battery hardly lasts, consider; how much more are you doing on your phone these days, compared to ten years ago?  Your life is on your phone, and so your battery has to support that.  But if we give much more battery life to any phone, it’s going to become a hazard.  For now, Samsung needs to work on the manufacturing malfunction.  And then we’ll work from there.

 

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