Bloated Batteries and The Damage They Cause

bloated smartphone iPhone battery

Dropping your phone in a pool, cracking the display, breaking the camera lens—these are just a few of the problems we all worry about when it comes to our smartphones. However, there is one major, albeit rare, issue many never consider—bloated batteries.

What are bloated batteries?

Bloating occurs when too much gas and heat builds up in a battery over time due to an excess of current passing uncontrollably through the cells. This issue intensifies when the battery cells decay or are subject to a lot of stress or damage.

What causes the battery to expand?

One of the most common causes of bloated batteries is overcharging. All smartphones use Lithium-ion battery cells. These cells are cyclical, which means they must be charged and discharged proportionately to remain effective. When you continually have the phone plugged in, or always keep it at a high rate of charge, you can exhaust the battery and apply unneeded stress to the cells.

Another common cause is excessive heat exposure. There is a reason why manufacturers recommend keeping your smartphone in a cool, dry environment. Prolonged heat can damage the cells, leading to excessive gas to build-up instead of charging the battery.

Constantly dropping your smartphone or subjecting it to other types of physical damage can also exacerbate any issues the battery may already have.

How to know if a bloated battery exists?

Because the battery is unable to vent any gas that may build up within its cells, it needs space to store it. Thus, as the battery swells, it will begin to cause noticeable damage to the exterior of the phone. The display may warp or bulge out, or the sides of your phone will open or break apart.

Subtler signs may include the device sitting uneven on a flat surface, only working when plugged in, or turning off quickly after charging.

How to fix a bloated battery?

Swelling cannot be reversed. If you suspect your device may be experiencing any of the above symptoms, it’s best to immediately take your smartphone to a professional repair shop to have the battery inspected and/or replaced.

If you prefer to inspect the battery on your own, make sure to wear protective gloves and eyeglasses before opening your phone. Lithium-ion battery cells contain an extremely flammable liquid that when mishandled can cause the bloated battery to burst or explode.

Extreme pressure may also cause them to burst into flames. If you recall, when the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 was released in 2016, there was a great deal of incidents of the phone catching fire or exploding. These incidents were not caused by bloated batteries but by an extreme pressure put on the batteries that caused the lining between the positive and negative poles to break and short circuit. Bloated batteries could, hypothetically, lead to the same situation.

All batteries will eventually fail, so if your battery isn’t functioning as it should, bloating or not, have it repaired as soon as you can before additional damage occurs.

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