Batteries Overheat And Catch Fire, Phones Have Batteries, Therefore...


Over the weekend we learned of two more smartphones catching fire as a result of overheating batteries. In the first incident an Australian surfer had his possessions and camper van torched after his iPhone 7 Plus caught fire while he was away surfing. In the second a Galaxy S7 Edge burnt out in Canada.

You'll notice that neither of these devices is the problematic Note 7.

The thing is Li-ion batteries catch fire. They are tightly packed into sealed devices with a source of some significant heat energy just a few centimetres away. Inevitably some are going to get heated to the point where the chemicals within the battery ignite, resulting in a burnt out phone and damage to items or people around it.

Batteries that have suffered an impact are more likely to flare up. The sort of impacts that occur in everyday phone usage.

Whilst we continue to demand that phones get slimmer and slimmer, perform better and run for longer OEMs will continue to increase the energy density of batteries. Which means a greater change of failure.

The Note 7's problem wasn't so much that it was catching fire - that's not unknown for smartphones - rather the rate at which it was happening, which was way above the accepted norm.

So we'll continue to hear reports of burning phones because phones will always burn. However when you consider that there are upwards of two billion handsets in use around the world today, two failures over a weekend don't amount to much of a problem.

So unless your intention is to pour scorn on those on the other side of the smartphone fence, you can probably ignore further stories about burning phones and the media attention can hopefully switch to the next big scandal.

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