Rechargeable Lithium ion batteries are everywhere
– Electronics, tablets, laptops, cars and
pretty much every single cell phone.
And most of the time, these lithium batteries
are incredibly safe.
As long as the lithium fail-safes are in place.
Fail-safes… that work.
Samsung just, voluntarily, recalled an estimated
2 million Galaxy Note 7’s as a safety precaution.
Since some of the batteries are exploding
inside the phone.
Obviously, random explosions are not a feature
that most people look for when purchasing
a cell phone.
So lets take a look at the Note 7 and assess
why it might spontaneously combust.
During charging, the phone is protected by
First off you have the part the plugs into
the wall; the charger, and the cable.
If the charger is faulty, or not designed
specifically for the phone, it can effect
the safety of the battery.
It can destroy the battery’s protection circuit
which ill show you in a second.
The charging port is also a fail-safe as well.
It tries to do its best to protect the phone
and the battery from faulty chargers and incorrect
BUT as a last resort, the battery also has
its own fail-safe built in.
Here is where the battery plugs into the mother
board to receive its juice and supply the
Then we have this circuit board; also called
the protection circuit, at the top of the
This controls the flow of electricity AND
the temperature of the lithium.
All lithium batteries should have a variation
of this board.
It makes sure that the battery does not over
charge, and it has a thermal fuse of sorts
will blow if the temperature gets too hot,
thus protecting the lithium inside from rapid
unplanned catastrophic dis-assembly.
The body of the battery is typically two layers.
The Anode and the cathode, which are separated
by an electrically conducting fluid.
This is oily and smells surprisingly of burnt
The combination of these elements allow your
phone to charge and function as long as the
battery protection circuitry is working correctly
and the electricity and temperature of the
lithium are regulated.
If it is not regulated correctly during charging,
the lithium will react violently.
So if we look at one of the exploded phones…
we can easily see which of the fail-safes…
is failing at being safe.
The charging port sits here inside of the
There are no burn marks near the port, OR
where the port connects to the motherboard.
BUT we do see some scorching where the battery
Not where it plugs into the main board which
would be about here.
But it explodes in the center of the battery.
Around the battery hole in the thick aluminum
So on this particular exploded Note 7, all
of the connections are good, its just the
battery itself isn’t behaving.
Tesla cars are also powered by lithium batteries,
and the Model S had a small issue at the beginning
of production where the batteries on the undercarriage
could get punctured by derbies on the road…
which could cause the lithium battery under
the car to explode.
Tesla corrected this problem by adding a titanium
puncture proof under-plate to the Model S.
The Note 7 batteries are definitely not being
Since there is nothing to poke them on the
inside as you can see from my teardown video.
It sits on smooth aluminum.
So since the Note 7 battery isn’t being punctured…
that narrows us down to overcharging, shorting,
or impurities in the battery itself.
A small metal impurity in the lithium could
short it out.
Personally, I think the problem has to do
with the little circuit board failing at the
top of the battery during charging.
From what I have read about the people who
have complained publicly about their Note
7 exploding, the phone was charging when it
The phone starts charging… the tiny regulator
doesn’t do its job and the battery enters
into a thermal runaway and the voltage regulator
cant stop the chain reaction.
Since this particular Note 7 battery isn’t
plugged into the phone right now, my tweezers
are acting as the other possible failure point;
a metal impurity in the manufacturing of the
battery; That could possibly short out the
All of this smoke and fire would be under
extreme pressure locked inside of your water
tight Note 7, the more pressure there is..
the bigger the explosion.
Remember this only happens on a VERY SMALL
number of devices.
So far its only happened on 35 phones out
of 2 million.
So, ya definitely take advantage of the recall,
but also feel free to use your phone as normal
in the meantime…. just don’t set it on your
lap while its plugged into the wall…. and
maybe take a fire extinguisher with you to
bed… just in case.
My Instagram followers saw the results of
this combustion before the video was posted
to YouTube, So follow me there, if you want
to stay updated on my future projects.
Subscribing to my YouTube channel is always
I review technology from the inside.
Thanks for watching!
Hope to see you around.