Stop your Battery from Exploding

Stop your Battery from Exploding. First we had a Samsung smartphone explode in Dubai and there was also one that caught fire in Switzerland, then another in Abu Dhabi and a few days ago it was the turn of a Hong Kong resident, where a Galaxy S4 caught fire and subsequently burned down his entire apartment (allegedly, Samsung managed to dodge the bullet on the Swiss case). While the stories mount and Samsung investigates we thought we’d take a quick look at the reasons why a battery might flame on and let you know how to avoid your phone becoming a really expensive cigarette lighter.

First let us make a firm point: unless there’s something seriously flawed in the assembly of abattery, or an even less likely design flaw, an electronic device, be it a smartphone, tablet or clock radio, will not usually explode. In fact, even in the rare cases where it does happen, it is often not the battery’s fault alone that causes the explosion or fire. More often than not, the problem lies in a couple of factors that most frequently contribute to causing the incident: the battery is not original and/or the charger is not original.

Lithium batteries suffer from a sexy little problem called ”thermal runaway,” whereby excess heat promotes even more excess heat and so on. Because of this, they are equipped with a system that protects against overcharging and prevents hazardous reactions of the chemicals contained within. It is quite often said that even the inexpensive batteries produced by unknown companies are just as reliable as the original. This is and isn’t true.

Because cell phone batteries are increasingly thin, there’s less room available to keep the positive and negative plates in the battery apart, which is done by an increasingly thin separator. If anything gets in between these two plates it can cause problems, and if things haven’t been made up to standards, especially when you place the battery under the stress of overcharging, you’re just adding fuel to the fire. Pardon the pun.


If a battery manufacturer follows all the guidelines they can certainly produce a perfectly safe battery, but some have also been known to save money by not inserting the fuse which disconnects the circuit in the case of overheating of the battery. Obviously, the effects of this missing fuse can be very dangerous, especially if you have a habit of charging your smartphone all night… maybe on the bedside table… 30 cm from your head.

In general, your best bet for not having any unexpected battery combustion problems are:

  • Rely on the manufacturer’s original battery or well-known replacement brands. It may be cheaper to buy cheap batteries, but consider how much you pay for your phone and how much you like your apartment in one piece. You wouldn’t put threadbare tires on a Ferrari.
  • Do not leave your device in hot areas, especially if it’s charging. That only makes overheating problems worse. Ambient temperatures affect batteries a lot.
  • If your phone is charging or you are using functions that cause it to heat up a lot, make sure you are using it in a ventilated place (also useful in case you need to toss it out the window).
  • And surprisingly, charging your battery once it hits 50% is actually a good thing. Li-ion batteries don’t suffer from memory issues like some batteries, but they can be damaged by low-voltage.

So, keep these tips in mind to keep your battery behaving the way you want it to and don’t freak out about your device blowing up in the middle of the night. If that really bothers you, you can leave your device off charge overnight and simply plug it in when you get up. Or get an S4 Active and keep it in the sink while you get your night’s rest.

Have you ever had a bad experience with smartphone batteries? Let us know in the comments.

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