Samsung phones blowing up at pandemic rates, urging return of removable batteries (Samsung responds)

This is a public service announcement! Check your drawers for any Samsung (or different brand) phones that aren’t in use, as they are a potential fire hazard!

In case you follow the smartphone industry, particularly on YouTube and Twitter, you’d know that there have been recent reports of Samsung phones that are … “blowing up”, or at least about to. Of course, to most, that’d probably bring immediate Galaxy Note 7 flashbacks – we all remember when Samsung’s 2016 flagship phone became the subject of universal entry checks, jokes, and legitimate fires.Despite trying, in the end Samsung wasn’t able to handle the Note 7 battery crisis. The company recalled the defective phones and released a fresh batch of Note 7s (after having changed its battery supplier). The issues persisted, and the Note 7 was eventually officially discontinued less than two months after its official launch.

But this time, the case is slightly different… The recently reported battery issues seem to be affecting any Samsung phone (as recent as 18 months old) that isn’t used/charged regularly. So, technically anyone could be affected, which is why I started this story with a warning!

Although this might sound like the beginning of another disastrous story for Samsung, there there could be a silver lining on the other end of it! In fact, this is the big reason I’m typing this one out.

But before I get to that, here’s what’s going on with Samsung’s older phones and their batteries…

Batteries in older Samsung phones are “blowing up” (again) – is it worse or better than the Galaxy Note 7 case?

So what’s the problem?

Simply put, you could have a Samsung phone that’s been sitting in a drawer for some time (without having been charged). This device could then suddenly start expanding and might eventually start looking like it was split in half due to a bloated battery. At this point, the cell would be expanding further and further until it’s taken care of or… not (which could lead to an explosion or/and a fire).

To make it clear, what’s happening here isn’t necessarily a problem exclusive to Samsung phones or something that can’t be prevented. Although this might not be universally known, any gadget that contains a Lithium-ion battery or a “Li-ion battery” is susceptible to such damage if treated without caution.

Which Samsung phones are blowing up, and why always Samsung? Other Android phone batteries have issues too!

As I already mentioned, this problem isn’t exclusive to Samsung phones. However, what’s rather concerning is that it turns out that Samsung phones are far more likely to cause swollen/expanding battery issues than other brands of phones – Android or Apple-made.As Arun Maini (or Mrwhosetheboss as most of you might know him) says in the very video (attached above) that started the discussion on why Samsung phones are blowing up, “something is happening with Samsung smartphones”…

In Arun’s case, the models we’re talking about are the Galaxy S6, Galaxy S8, Galaxy Note 8, Galaxy S10 5G, Galaxy S10e, Galaxy Z Fold 2, and Galaxy S20 FE. It’s notable that although most of the phones on the list are 3-6 years old, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 and Galaxy S20 FE are just about two years old. Maini says his Galaxy S20 FE was only delivered to him 18 months prior to him discovering the battery issue, which is particularly alarming.

Anyway, of course, we had to do our own little drawer digging here at PhoneArena headquarters (please!), and… our findings seem to be slightly more mixed. Our set of devices with swollen-up batteries includes the:

  • OnePlus One (the only phone on the list that was stored in its original packaging, meaning it was never really charged up in the first place – which is a great excuse for the battery expansion)
  • Samsung Galaxy S6
  • Samsung Galaxy S8
  • Huawei P10 Lite
  • Oppo R7

Of course, this shows that Samsung isn’t the only phone-maker whose phones are susceptible to such battery issues. However, it also reaffirms the theory that Samsung’s devices make this list more often than other phones (Samsung’s the only manufacturer with two phones on our anti-list).

People take it on social media to complain about their Samsung phones with similar battery issues (here are the comments)

What to do if your Samsung phone’s battery is expanding and about to blow up

With all the nerdy explaining out of the way, here’s what you can do in case you notice that your old Samsung Galaxy phone looks somewhat bloated:

  • Don’t charge your phone! Attempting to charge a damaged battery is never a good idea and can lead to an explosion/fire
  • Don’t attempt to separate the battery from the body of the phone unless you are adequately prepared and equipped to do so
  • Get a fireproof bag (about $10 on Amazon) in case you need to continue storing the device – mind you, “fireproof bags” aren’t really fireproof, but rather heat-resistant
  • In case we’re talking about a relatively new device, you could try to contact Samsung to arrange a collection and an exchange – otherwise you can give up your old device for recycling (never ship it without appropriate packaging if it’s already showing signs of battery swelling)

Samsung’s passive reaction to the ongoing battery issues is somewhat concerning

At the beginning of the story, I alluded to the Galaxy Note 7 case, which is a reminder of how Samsung’s dealt with similar issues before.

Although the quality control oversights that lead to Samsung’s battery problems might be the same/similar, this doesn’t mean the reasons for the battery problems are the same. The Galaxy Note 7 was found to have defectivebatteries, which could catch on fire for no apparent reason, while in this case, we’re talking ageing batteries, which haven’t been charged for a while.Anyway, Samsung couldn’t really solve the Note 7’s issue in a timely manner, and the phone had to be discontinued. So, how is the South Korean company going to react to this crisis situation, which is already in the public eye and getting better documented by the hour?

Well, the initial response from Samsung (in communication with Arun from Mrwhosetheboss) is anything but reassuring:

  • Samsung representatives have requested to collect the damaged phones
  • They have then failed to follow up with the customer for the next two months

That was until the video discussing Samsung’s battery issues (which now has nearly five million clicks) was published. According to a tweet, days after that, Samsung reached out to Arun with a statement that doesn’t really say much at all, let alone solving any problems…

The silver lining! Can Samsung’s battery issues result in a historical shift? People demand the return of removable batteries on phones!

So, the reason I’m writing this piece isn’t just to point fingers at Samsung, as this has already been done. As I mentioned, nearly five million people have now seen the video that discusses the South Korean company’s battery problems in great detail (I have a feeling that this won’t be the last video we see on the topic).What I’d like to focus on is looking further into the future in an attempt to see what Samsung’s ongoing battery issues could lead to for Samsung, other phone brands, and us as consumers. And the only thing, or rather the first thing that came to mind (and got me excited), might also be the rather simple solution to this not-so-simple battery problem that Samsung (and others) have been facing and will continue to be experiencing if they don’t do something about it…

Bringing back removable batteries!

Since even Apple is now moving towards making iPhones more repairable, and as problems with expanding batteries in many Samsung phones are being discovered, is there a chance that local and international bodies responsible for making sure electronics are safe finally demand removable batteries in phones to make a grand return? Music to your ears, right?

Apart from the obvious benefit of being able to remove your potentially swollen battery, replace it with a new one, and thus prevent a fire and buying a new phone (which means spending money and contributing to further waste of resources), removable batteries will also make our phones last longer, which is the whole idea behind the Right to Repair movement and sustainability, which (supposedly) pushed Apple towards allowing people to fix their own iPhones and later make the iPhone 14 much easier to repair.

Samsung, as theother big smartphone player on the market has the chance to be the next phone-maker that reacts accordingly to the move towards more durable/sustainable phones. Especially now that our safety is also part of the equation and given Samsung’s history with dangerous phone batteries…

I’m not saying Samsung, Apple, Google, etc., should be bullied by authorities into bringing back removable phone batteries, but I also won’t lie to you and say I don’t wish removable batteries were back for one reason or another… Anyway… Perhaps that could be the silver lining to this whole Samsung battery drama. Sometimes you need to take a few steps back to get ready for the big leap forward. Right?

What do you make out of the whole situation and do you think bringing back removable batteries on phones is the way to go?