The battery of my OnePlus 9 Pro is so bloated that the case bursts open.
I accidentally discovered this potentially dangerous situation when I noticed that the year-old Android phone didn’t sit perfectly in its carbon fiber body. I absentmindedly reached out and pushed down on a corner of the phone to try to put it back in place. It reappeared. After a few tries, I removed the case and discovered the truth: the battery had expanded and split the chrome case along a long line of glue, creating a quarter-inch chasm in one area.
“Not again,” I thought.
A few years ago, a Google Pixel 3 XL that I mostly keep on a Pixel charging dock by my bed seemed to pop out of the charger on its own. It turns out that the battery has expanded so much that the case no longer sits flush with the charging station.
I ended up sending the phone back to Google and got a replacement; at least this phone was more than a few years old. But I checked the OnePlus 9 Pro just over a year ago. At the time I called it “a beautiful device” and “one of the best devices I’ve used in the Android space”. Even with the split back, it still looks pretty good.
Is it still working? For sure. I turned it on and it started up, like Head wound Harryas if there was no critical damage.
Still, I won’t be using it now and ever again.
As soon as I posted a short video of the split phone on Twitter, I got a quick flood of responses and at least a warning: “I would, uh, turn it off.”
This is worrying. The battery of the OnePlus 9Pro 5G is now bursting at the seams of the phone. Not the first time I’ve seen an Android phone like this pic.twitter.com/5HfdokTXG5March 28, 2022
I’ve also found a community of people who have suffered similar battery disasters on a variety of Android phones and iPhones. I’ve owned and tested every iPhone since the iPhone 4 and have never had a battery balloon or case split.
Still, the bloated battery stories spread through numerous Samsung phones, iPhones, MacBooks and Pixels.
It’s a big enough problem frequently asked Questions and the services dedicated to him. I found a place called bebat which attempts to explain why cell phone lithium-ion batteries explode and what can be done about it. Yes, it also sells a repair service.
No one, including Bebat, is sure why all those batteries occasionally bloat. It could be:
- Too much charging
- A broken part
It’s almost like nobody understands how these batteries work. Although we know they do – most of the time.
An expanding phone battery and concerns about what might happen next if I keep using it or charging it (explosion and fire spring to mind) bring me back to Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 about seven years ago.
The Galaxy Note 7 was an Android industry darling until the first units took off explode and catch fire. The lithium-ion battery was to blame.
Before you can understand what goes wrong with such a power source, it helps to understand how most lithium-ion batteries work. It’s something we all got a crash course in in 2016.
As with most batteries, there is a positive and a negative side, usually made of two different conductive materials (e.g. aluminum and graphite). Because a battery creates electricity through chemistry and the flow of charged ions, there is also a liquid (called an electrolyte) and a thin layer of plastic that separates the positive and negative sides. The cells will be charged when we connect the phone.
Unlike the batteries in, say, your remote control, phone batteries can’t be round and thick, nor can everything sit neatly in just two layers. Typically, smartphone batteries fold and sandwich the layers over and over again to make them thin and as flat as possible (and conserve as much energy).
As you can imagine, if all of this is not done perfectly, things can go wrong. In the case of Samsungit was a huge battery that was squeezed into too small a space and deformed some layers, as well as a production issue where a bad weld perforated those layers in some devices.
Samsung has learned its lesson and introduced strict battery monitoring and testing for all future devices. Since then, no significant incident has occurred.
What is good. But why are our phone batteries still expanding?
Since this issue is device-wide, it is clearly an intrinsic lithium-ion issue.
Even experts like Bebat don’t offer a clear idea of why or what companies could do to prevent this. However, you know what you can’t:
There is no point in waiting for the battery to “shrink”. The ever-increasing pressure can cause damage to the entire device. Only leave the battery in the device if it is stuck. Never try to “unclog” the swelling yourself by piercing it or using other creative tricks. This is very dangerous: the gas is not only combustible, but also poisonous.
In any support forum, the advice is the same. Stop using the device immediately and take it to a service center. A MacBook user claimed me on twitter that an Apple Store genius told him to give them the laptop and “we can put it back in the special safe in case it explodes.”
That sounds dramatic, but an exploding lithium-ion battery is not out of the realm of possibility.
I don’t think I’m in any immediate danger here, but I turned the OnePlus 9 Pro off and reached out to the company’s representatives for comment. My more immediate concern is that gas-filled batteries, while hardly common, will expand unusual.
Hopefully, making these incidents public is the first step in getting phone makers to be more transparent, work on safer, less vulnerable batteries, and look for a less volatile energy storage system than lithium-ion. It’s a big challenge, I know.
Where do I keep this creepy OnePlus 9 Pro?
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