Dangers of owning a Galaxy Note 7

Photo credit: samsungmobilepress.com

By Graham Alabdulla, Contributing Writer

On September 7, the American based company Apple announced and demonstrated the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus with its sleeker dimensions, lack of an audio jack, and various upgrades. The main rival to Apple is South Korean based Samsung who announced their Galaxy Note 7 on August 19, more than two weeks beforehand. Samsung’s product was the main rival to Apple’s latest cell phone, and it has not exactly put its best foot forward.

Since its launch, there are 35 reports of the Galaxy Note 7 exploding or similarly malfunctioning from the battery. Now, you may be thinking to yourself, “A little heat is nothing to worry about, my current phone gets hot from time to time.” Let me stop you there — the Galaxy has reportedly burned the hands of a six-year old, caused a car to catch fire, and exploded in a hotel room causing over a thousand dollars in damages.

But an even greater concern is that all devices powered by a lithium-ion battery could possibly explode. Let’s explore this further. Lithium-ion batteries store, transform and release energy because of natural chemical reactions. This battery has two electrodes, which are places for the electricity to enter or leave; there is a cathode, or positively charged area and an anode, or a negatively charged area.

The cathode stores positive ions and the anode stores negatively charged ions. Basically the battery charges by electricity bringing charged electrons through the battery contacts until the positive ions cannot accept any more negatively charged ions.

Lithium, one of the lightest metals on the periodic table, is an excellent material for a lightweight portable battery that can hold a charge –and let us watch Netflix– for a long time.

In order for batteries with such a reactive metal to be “safe”, they are sealed under pressure with a thin coat of lithium surrounding the entire battery. This thin coat sounds more dangerous than having a thicker coat of metal, but if it was thicker, more pressure would be able to build up and essentially create a larger explosion.

Experts cannot conclusively report on what the cause of the exploding battery is, but physical damage and heat can cause a meltdown. The current theory is that the pathway between the cathode and anode, the pathway that charges the battery, became overloaded and shorted out.

This short resulted in the buildup of energy in the form of heat within the battery, which would increase the pressure in the battery case, and would ultimately result in an explosion of liquid metal shrapnel flying everywhere. So, the next time you use your phone, just know that you are essentially holding a small bomb in your hand, a relatively safe bomb, but a bomb nonetheless. And if your bomb is called a Galaxy Note 7, know that they are armed and dangerous: deactivate and dispose of it responsibly.



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