Here's why any smartphone battery can explode

Johannesburg - Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 phablet has become synonymous with exploding batteries, but other smartphone brands risk facing the same problem amid a race for faster charging times.

This race could be detrimental to the design of almost every new smartphone boasting a “fast-charging battery”, as the lithium liquid that powers these devices could be volatile.

Similar to the Note 7, experts tell Fin24 that every smartphone produced today features a lithium battery, which is able to store more energy. However the liquid within these batteries is also chemically unstable. 

Batteries within smartphones feature panels within their lithium batteries that transfer lithium-ions between the anode and cathode. 

Because of the chemical instability of lithium, the transfer can often be volatile.

In the case of the Note 7, one theory is that the device was designed with the steepest curve ever  on any Samsung phone, which applied more pressure to the battery and the spontaneous transfer of lithium-ions . 

Regardless, every smartphone made features the same battery type with the same chemical properties. 

Luckily, manufacturers seal a battery well-enough to prevent leakage and include heat sensors for the battery. 

When a device overheats the chemical reaction within the battery often tends to develop faster, which can result in devices exploding. 

READ: Samsung SA confirms Note 7 is dead

Around the world, regulations by airports and courier services exist around transporting batches of lithium batteries by air, as they are marked as dangerous goods.

Individual use of laptops and mobile phones, though, is permitted as the batteries on these devices on their own are smaller and less harmful.

If a smartphone explodes on a plane, experts say that it would not be as serious as, for instance, a bomb going off.  


Samsung's 'exploding' Note 7 has even become the target of video games like Grand Theft Auto.


This is because an exploding phone on a plane may just produce smoke and can easily be contained. 

Other factors that can influence batteries exploding include how your device is  charged, the type of charging accessories you use and the cable used.

READ: Acsa weighs in on Samsung Note 7 ban

Manufacturers urge users to charge devices with chargers only supplied in the original packaging. 

Another factor that could influence spontaneous battery reactions is that fast-charging batteries tend to increase the amount of voltage used to charge the smartphone.

Yet, the reality is that exploding phones are an anomaly rather than the norm. 

Most manufacturers understand that pushing the limits of lithium batteries risk dangerous consequences.

As much as the technology is a risk, experts say it is the best we have for now, especially if it is implemented within reasonable means.

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