Several phone battery explosions have been registered in the last two years. Most of them were caused by Motorola devices with counterfeit batteries. In the United States at least 83 people were burned from cell phone battery explosions during this period. Most caused by inadequate use of batteries and recharges, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

To avoid other incidents, manufacturer Kyocera Wireless has recently launched a security system to thwart the use of non-authorized batteries in Kyocera handsets, starting in models from Asia. Forthcoming devices from other countries will also use the cipher-based solution.

But why are these incidents being more often in the last couple of years? Besides the fact that more and more people from around the world own a cell phone, nowadays devices use Li-ion batteries, which have lots of advantages but one important drawback: they can explode when damaged or exposed to high temperatures.

When compared to batteries based on nickel metal hydride or nickel cadmium, Li- ion is smaller and more durable, causes less damaged to environment (since it doesn’t have toxic material as cadmium) and doesn’t suffer from the memory effect. On the other hand, it’s more fragile and requires some additional care from the user. Manufactures say that the ideal temperature to store a Lithium-based battery is under 77ºF (25ºC). That’s not always possible, for sure, but we should (and must!) be careful. A Li-ion battery must never be exposed to direct sunlight, for example. To avoid explosions and to prolong Li-ion batteries usage, we’ve listed some warnings:

  • You can recharge a lithium-based battery frequently, but you shouldn’t recharge it more than it’s necessary. You use to recharge your cell phone for hours? Forget it!
  • If the device needs to be kept stored for a lengthy period of time, keep the battery in a cool place at 40% state-of-charge. The website stated that a Li-ion battery stored for a year at 40% charge lose 4% of its permanent capacity, and one stored at 100% charge lose 20% of its capacity.
  • Keep your cell phone away from water, sand, dust and humidity. Short-circuiting can also explode your device.
  • If your handheld gets wet, remove the battery and let your cell phone dries before put it back.
  • Do not freeze the battery. When the battery gets warm again, it can be humid and cause damage to the battery’s circuit.
  • Do not place your cell phone in a hot car.
  • Do not carry your cell phone in your pocket.
  • Do not use plastic cases to protect your cell phone. They can overheat it.
  • Do not open the battery. Do not even try it!
  • Prefer original and authorized accessories and batteries.
  • Keep the battery away from metallic objects. It can short-circuit.
  • Lithium-based batteries are used not just in cell phones, but also in many kinds of electronic devices, such as MP3 players, digital cams and laptops.
  • If despite all these warnings your device gets overheated, contact technical assistance.