Surely by now everyone on planet earth has heard about poor Samsung’s misfortunes. A few dozen Galaxy Note 7 models have exploded and caught fire; injuring some people, damaging cars and homes and clothing, and getting banned from various airlines.
Yet, here we are with perhaps a million Galaxy Note 7 smartphones that haven’t been turned back to Samsung. Whenever such disasters occur we get reports of other smartphones catching fire, and even Apple’s iPhones have made the news. It happens. Does that mean the iPhone is a bomb in your pocket?
‘Yep, It’s A Bomb’
The answer to the question is short and simple. ‘Yes.’ The iPhone is something of a bomb, not exploding in sufficient numbers to get it a guest spot on a recent mod of Grand Theft Auto, but each iPhone is ticking.
Samsung’s earnings this year will get hit with a $5-billion financial bomb because a few dozen of millions of Galaxy Note 7 phones sold exploded and caught fire. We may not know the exact cause of those fires, but we know there’s an inherent problem with batteries in general. Some of them overheat and explode, but they do so in such small numbers and with so little damage that it’s considered just part and parcel of what can happen; the exception, not the rule.
Lithium-ion batteries contain pressurized and combustible materials and things go wrong, whether it’s a short circuit, damage from a drop or fall, a mistake in manufacturing, or some electronic component that decided to go bonkers at the wrong time, and presto alakazam– a bomb occurs when all that stored energy gets released at once; sufficient to scorch pants, handbag, or table, but with enough flames in the right locations, bring down an airliner. Older lithium ion batteries used a liquid electrolyte, but today’s batteries use a lithium-polymer which is considered safer.
Tell that to all those Samsung Galaxy customers who are switching to iPhones just as a few iPhones have also exploded and caught fire.
Is there a solution here?
First, be cautious. Keep your iPhone or any device that uses a highly dense lithium battery in view but also away from flammable materials. Second, when the battery decides to explode it heats up quickly so you won’t have much time to pull it from your pocket or bag to dispose of the now incendiary device. Airlines have begun carrying fire containment bags big enough to handle notebooks. Guess what kinds of batteries most notebooks use?
Researchers have been experimenting with many different kinds of battery materials and have promised for years that the future of batteries which don’t explode as easily and last 10-times as long are just around the corner. For now, that smartphone in your pocket is a small bomb waiting to become a big pain.