For years experts have been warning about consequences of using smartphones, tablets and electronic in general too much. Most commonly mentioned dangers include damage to joints in hands and upper spine, worsening of eyesight, decline of interpersonal relations and many more. This, however, is nothing compared to what could potentially happen to Samsung Galaxy Note 7 users. Apparently, the device might go “boom” right in your face due to serious battery issues and that would be far worse than stiff thumbs or neck. As Samsung recalls the Galaxy Note 7, we can’t help but wonder why phones catch fire and even explode?
Samsung stops sales of the Galaxy Note 7 following a number of dangerous incidents caused by faulty batteries. Here’s what you can do to protect your phone and yourself from battery malfunction.
Samsung recalls the Galaxy Note 7
It was one of the hottest announcements of today – Samsung issued a statement in which the company confirmed that it’s pulling the Galaxy Note 7 from store in markets where the phablet is already on sale and postponing the launch in the remaining countries. The Korean manufacturer is also encouraging customers who already bought the Note 7 to return their devices to stores and promises to replace them with properly working units.
This whole commotion is Samsung’s reaction to reports of the Note 7 exploding after being plugged to a charger. So far only 35 cases have been confirmed which compared to hundreds of thousands of units already sold is just a fraction of percentage, but to those users who had the dubious pleasure of witnessing their dream phone burst into flames it is a big deal. Not to mention that it could pose a serious danger to those users’ health.
Samsung revealed that it’s conducting an investigation and for now the company was ready to reveal that the issue was caused by faulty batteries. It might seem that knowing where the problem is would make it easy to eliminate it, but the thing is that Samsung ordered batteries from a number of suppliers so identifying the faulty units is virtually impossible. For this reason, the company decided to recall the phablet globally not only in its home country as it initially planned. At the moment it’s unclear when sales will begin again and how long it will take to replace units returned by customers but it probably won’t be less than a month.
Causes of explosions
While we usually worry about screens shattering to pieces when the phone hits the floor, we tend to forget that batteries can break on impact as well. Even a small crack in the thin compacted battery material between cells can be a cause of short circuit which in turn can lead to fire or explosion. Some batteries, especially very cheap ones, can get ‘damaged’ at production stage. Such batteries may contain tiny particles of metal which, as you probably know, is a perfect conductor. You move the phone in a wrong way, the particles gets in between other parts of the battery cell causing short circuit and the battery catches fire.
Another most common cause of battery malfunction is heat. In a properly working battery, it takes very high temperatures to damage battery to a point when it will explode. However, if there’s a fault in the construction of the battery, heat generated by charging is enough to cause short circuit and consequently fire.
Every power transfer results in heat production but healthy batteries can deal with it without any issues. Heat is distributed evenly and then transferred to other components of the phone, hence the device may feel warm when it’s charging. However, when the battery is damaged, heat builds up in one area which eventually leads to a breakdown chain reaction that generates more and more heat and the battery can’t get rid of it fast enough. Powerful processors used in high-end phones add to the problem as well, since they tend to generate more heat than they used to. Fast charging technologies are not helping either, as they force more current into a battery in a shorter period of time.
It may seem that smartphones are becoming very dangerous devices, but there are a few simple rules you can follow to significantly minimize the risk of overheating and explosion.
- Unplug the charger when the phone becomes hot. You phone may and probably will feel warm when it’s charging but when it’s hot, react immediately. Let the phone cool down completely before trying to plug the charger in again.
- Use original chargers. Even though it may seem that another charger may work well with your phone, the voltage and current may not match resulting in serious damage of the battery. Hence it’s better to use chargers made especially for your model. The same goes for Type-C port or Quick Charge cables – use the ones that came with your phone.
- Don’t sleep with your phone when it’s charging. While watching a movie or playing a relaxing game may seem like a perfect bedtime activity, it can also be very dangerous. If you accidentally cover the phone with a pillow, or worse, with your body, heat has nowhere to escape.
- Charge your phone in favorable circumstances. The best place to charge your phone is flat and cool surface such as a table. Avoid charging your phone in direct sunlight, especially on hot days, and close to heat sources such as radiators.
The recall will certainly cost Samsung lots of money, time and energy and maybe even a few disappointed fans but it says one thing about the company – it takes care of its customers. It’s also a very important lesson for all the users. It reminds us that while smartphones and other electronics are useful, entertaining and generally cool, they can also be dangerous and that while we can’t always avoid an incident, we should never forget to follow safety rules because they are there for a reason.