Samsung says it knew about battery bulging in Galaxy phones

Arun Maini, a blogger on the YouTube technology channel Mrwhosetheboss, found last month that among more than 600 smartphones in his collection, the Galaxy Note 8’s battery had bulged and caused the phone to crack. He later discovered that his Galaxy S6 and S10 batteries were also bulging.

When Arun Maini tweeted the news, some commenters said their Samsung phone batteries were also bulging. Subsequent Maini released a related video on YouTube, and after the video was released, more people said they found the same thing.

This isn't the first time Samsung has encountered battery-related issues, having previously halted production of its Galaxy Note 7 due to a battery fire. Maini currently counts 8 affected mobile phones, all of which are Samsung mobile phones. While that means only 1% of his total phone collection is affected, it's still very concerning with billions of people carrying smartphones in their pockets every day.

Maini puts all his phones on a stand, holding them in place with special 3D-printed clips that keep them upright. He doesn't have a thermometer in his room, but Maini estimates the temperature is generally around 22 degrees Celsius, and he doesn't think the temperature is related to battery swelling. 

Arthur Shi, the senior technical writer at iFixit, said in an interview that swelling occurs when the electrolyte material in a battery (usually a liquid) begins to break down and then turns into a gas. With lithium-ion batteries, if they are discharged to almost no charge, they can damage the battery, he said.

Arthur Shi said that iFixit also has a lot of phones with bulging batteries, including Samsung and Apple phones, and as to why this seems to be happening on more Samsung phones, a lot of research work is needed. According to Shi, iPhone batteries tend to be less bulging, and older iPhones have significantly smaller batteries than Samsung batteries. "Capacity is also a factor in how much the battery swells," he said.

The problem could also be caused by manufacturing defects, said Kelsey Hatzell, an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton University. "When there is a metal part that is in contact with the material inside the battery and any kind of metal residue is transferred into the battery during the manufacturing process, that's what causes most or a significant number of battery failures," she said in an interview. I would expect it to be something to do with the manufacturer of the battery."

Samsung spokesman Chris Langlois told that Samsung is aware of this and is looking into further technical evaluations, customers with questions about their Samsung devices are encouraged to contact their local Samsung Customer Service Representative.

Arthur Shi said, don't panic if you notice your phone's battery is swelling. The bulge is not inherently dangerous, it's a safety mechanism to contain volatile gases. The battery actually expands slightly every time you charge it, and the phone Manufacturers have built specific tolerances into battery wells to take this into account. The danger is charging an already bulging battery. When you charge it, you cause the electrolyte to break down even more. Then the battery may expand even more, and it may eventually rupture, and the heat generated may lead to thermal events.

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