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Top reasons why smartphone batteries explode, and how you can prevent it from happening

A young child was recently killed after using a smartphone while it was charging, which led to the device exploding. Here's how you can prevent the same thing from happening to you and your smartphone. 

An Apple iPhone 3GS's Lithium-ion polymer battery, which has expanded due to a short circuit failure. The battery is shown in situ on top of the rear phone case; pictured behind is an intact iPhone 3GS for size comparison. An Apple iPhone 3GS's Lithium-ion polymer battery, which has expanded due to a short circuit failure. The battery is shown in situ on top of the rear phone case; pictured behind is an intact iPhone 3GS for size comparison.
An Apple iPhone 3GS's Lithium-ion polymer battery, which has expanded due to a short circuit failure. The battery is shown in situ on top of the rear phone case; pictured behind is an intact iPhone 3GS for size comparison. (Mpt-matthew/Wikimedia)

Smartphone batteries are designed to withstand the wear and tear of daily life, with several protections built in to prevent over-charging, overheating and other untoward events. However, every now and then, we hear about incidents where smartphone batteries have exploded or caught fire, sometimes harming owners and their family members in the process.

Just a couple of days ago, Live Hindustan reported that a child in Mirzapur in Uttar Pradesh died after a mobile phone exploded. The incident that reportedly took place when the child tried to charge the battery, also left a large part of the child’s face damaged, according to the report.

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However, almost every smartphone purchased through legal channels has been certified safe for use, so most users should never experience this issue. However, there are a few things you can do to prevent such an incident from ever occurring with your device.

Don’t cover your phone or use it for heavy tasks while charging

Charging your phone overnight is not an issue with modern smartphones, but puacing it in between your pillows to charge can prove to be disastrous. The heat generated while charging most phones is quite high and having the smartphone charged in a closed area will prevent the heat from dissipating. It is for the same reason that using your smartphone for intensive tasks is not recommended, if your smartphone’s built-in thermal lock doesn’t kick in, the temperatures on the inside of the phone might just be too much for your phone battery to handle.

Don’t use uncertified chargers with your smartphone

While almost any charger can be used to charge your smartphone as long as it has the same micro USB, USB-C or Lightning plug, you should always stick to the charger that came with your device. If that is not an option then you should use a charger that is certified to work with your smartphone. In Apple’s case, officially certified accessories are ‘MFI certified’, while on Android you will need to check whether your accessory is certified to work with your device -- such as Warp charging on OnePlus devices or Qualcomm QuickCharge on devices with Snapdragon processors.

Don’t drop your phone repeatedly or bend or puncture the battery

Physical damage is the biggest enemy of any smartphone battery and dropping it can cause issues with the internals of the battery. Over time, your smartphone battery’s chemical composition will also change as you charge and discharge, making it swell and bulge a little. Do not puncture the battery in any way to reduce the swelling as it will catch fire, instead replace it with a new one from an authorised service centre. Also, avoid exposing your smartphone to extreme heat, like leaving it inside a closed car which can get very hot on a summer day.

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