How safe are our phones?

Posted Jun 01, 2013 at 1:35 pm in Threads > Opinions

I just wanted to point you out to this link before I start:

http://blog.gsmarena.com/a-samsung-galaxy-s3-smartphone-combusts-out-of-the-blue-and-burns-off-while-owner-is-asleep/

So, how safe do you think out phones are? I’m more concerned about the phones like HTC One which have a completely metal body. If you saw the pictures, the battery had swollen up like a balloon! Do you think plastic phones have this advantage of allowing the battery to expand without causing an explosion or do you think metal body phones would actually help contain it (or cause a bigger explosion with metal flying around)…

While Lithium-ion batteries are almost everywhere, how much thought do manufacturers give to design to incorporate such extreme scenarios?

  • MC_Android

    Well, I read this article earlier this week, and there are some questionable aspects to this story. This also is not an isolated event and previous cases of spontaneous combustion of phones on car dashboards for example turned out to have in fact been microwaved by the user. So follow this story with a grain of salt.

    Anyway, to answer your second questions…metal phones are actually better at heat dissipation than plastic, due to its higher thermal conductivity property. The fact that it feels hotter when charging versus plastic is because for plastic phones, it is actually retaining the heat within the back cover…which in theory, is less safe. So that fact that plastic is better than metal for phone’s battery heat is a misconception. The phone feels hot because the heat is being transferred from the battery; this is why wires are not made out of plastic and polymers.

    Lastly, your concern with exploding batteries…usually, if your device battery is going to fail, it will be due to a battery short circuit – essentially current flows through an unintended path. That’ll screw up your phone but it isn’t go to be a thousand flying plastic/metal shards combusting in your pocket…lol. If it overheats, it is more likely to melt through and leak electrolytes…also not ideal but not explode. If it reaches even higher temperatures…I think around 60C – read before…going off memory – it risks exploding. Dangerous but really only likely when the battery is acting as the load rather than the source – ie, it is being charged. I’m sure there are industry standards to address these health concerns but I unfortunately can’t tell you the details…but failure tests are usually incorporated for every component of a product.

    Lithium ion batteries don’t suffer memory effects so you can recharge it for as long as your won’t but they are designed to have a shelf life of ~36 months…whether or not you use it. So…that also explains why I dislike this trend where manufacturers are choosing to make batteries un-removable but the phone is 3 mm thinner. After the shelf life, you are going to get shit battery life and it is actually intrinsically less safe when charging it.

    Things you can do…when charging, open the battery cover to prevent heat retention within the phone. Also, charge the phone (when possible) when it is below ~40-50% as lithium ion doesn’t handle great at lower voltages.

    Cheers :)

    Source: Eng student

    • Levi

      I just bought the new Samsung S5. I work in a gas plant, and I’m curious to how intrinsically safe it is. I know legally it isn’t, but really all the explosion proof electronics we have on site just have rubber seals around all the openings. The S5 is the same way. Are they technically explosion resistant in any way?

  • edisonlee

    backup your phone is necessary to avoid important data loss.