Every now and then we come across a news about a charging smartphone claiming lives by some way or the other. The latest victim of such an incident is a 14 year old girl, Alua Asetkyzy Abzalbek from Bastobe, Kazakhstan; who went to bed listening to music at her village home but never woke up again.
Next morning she was found dead as the phone’s battery had exploded close to her head. She is said to have sustained major head injuries and succumbed to them immediately. The shocked family members called the paramedics, who could only confirm her death.
Forensic experts who examined the phone found it plugged to a power socket and said that it exploded during the early hours of the morning after getting overheated while charging. The brand of the phone was not disclosed by them.
The tragic death has left a deep impact on the family and friends of Alua. Her best friend Ayazhan Dolasheva, mentioned in a social media post that she can’t believe that this happened. She further wrote, ‘You were the best. We have been together since childhood. It is so hard for me without you. I miss you so much. You have left me forever.’
Many cases of exploding smartphones have been reported from around the world in the past years and the phenomenon is not related to just Samsung devices. All phones come with lithium ion batteries and experts point out that there are a couple of reasons that a battery can explode or catch fire.
The first reason can be a puncture in the outer wall of the battery that can be caused by a drop impact. This may lead to a short circuit between the internal cells leading to swelling and an explosion. In other cases, a cheaper battery can come with unwanted metal particles that can result in a short circuit with the unit.
The second cause is related to overheating of the battery during charging. Excessive heat can result in a short circuit by breaking down the individual cells within the battery. This can also result in a chain reaction within the battery that prevents it from cooling down and ultimately causing a fire or an explosion. This should not normally happen unless the battery is faulty or has been overcharged.
With modern phones being equipped with fast charging technology, the possibility of heat generation also increases. The modern processors also generate more heat and this can impact the effective conduction of heat within the smartphone.
The safety precautions to be taken include stopping the charging process in case a phone gets too hot and sticking to original first-party chargers. In addition a phone should not be charged near any hot place and to be on the safe side do not leave it charging near the bed or under the pillow.