The Samsung Galaxy Note7 is a new phone that’s on fire. Literally. The phones are catching on fire, forcing Samsung to make the unprecedented move to recall all of the phones from around the world.
Cell phone batteries occasionally explode because they utilize lithium ion battery packs. The liquid lithium is highly flammable. Modern phones are designed incredibly thin, so there’s only a slight barrier between the positive and negative sides of a battery. If that barrier is punctured, electricity flows in and heats up the flammable lithium. That’s when an explosion occurs.
There is rampant speculation about the cause of the Galaxy Note7 fires, including manufacturing defects, too much pressure on the various components due to making the phone "thinner", or a battery charging problem.
Consider these four tips (and safety precautions) you should take if your seemingly safe smartphone ignites:
- Be careful with water. If the phone ignites, the best option is to quickly smother it with something non-flammable (metal/rock) to extinguish the flames. The battery is in a runaway thermal reaction, and if doused with water, it can reignite moments later.
- Watch out for warning signs. If the phone suddenly feels very hot, then quickly shut it down, and place it outside covered by a non-flammable item. Do not power the phone back on, and instead take it your provider’s local store.
- Charge your phone safely. While the risk of ignition is low (even for the Samsung Galaxy Note7), it’s advisable to charge your phone away from flammable objects such as papers or pillows, instead keep it charging on a flat hard surface and give it plenty of "breathing room".
- Don’t immediately throw the phone away. It’s possible to retrieve some of the data from the damaged phone, if it contains personal and valuable data. Qualified data recovery specialists might be able to retrieve information from the phone’s memory.