Here’s what to do (and not to do) with your old swollen phones

No matter how good you find a new piece of tech, you should avoid third-party or knock-off products that have a greater risk of failure or injury. However, this is not to say that well-known devices are completely safe.

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Are you trading in your old smartphone for a new one? It’s a common practice today, but you didn’t always have that option. If you’ve got an old phone or two stashed away somewhere, you might want to check this out. They could endanger your property and safety.

Samsung is in hot water again

Do you remember the Samsung Galaxy Note 7? It was launched in 2016 and was pulled from the shelves just two months later. A defective battery caused a short circuit, which led to overheating and fires. Samsung released software updates to limit battery drain and recalled faulty devices to have their batteries replaced, but those caught fire too. My goodness!

The events surrounding the Note 7 (it was banned from all flights by the FAA) made headlines, but apparently it wasn’t an isolated incident.

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YouTuber Arun Maini, who goes by the moniker Mrwhosetheboss, has been collecting every Samsung flagship phone since 2010 and is noticing a scary pattern. His phones blew up! Not literally exploding, but in some cases the batteries will swell enough to crack the glass displays and shatter the case:

Arun first spotted the problem on three phones: the Galaxy Note 8, S6, and S10. He notes that the phones were switched off, only used for a few weeks and stored in the same way and in the same environment as phones from other manufacturers. The iPhone, Asus and Google phones in his collection didn’t have such problems.

He tweeted about the damaged phones and heard feedback from Samsung. The company sent a courier to pick up the phones for lab testing. Almost two months later, Arun heard back from Samsung with the following statement:

“We are aware of this matter and are considering further technical assessments. We encourage customers who have questions about their Samsung device to contact their local customer service representative.”

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Other Samsung phone owners tweeted about their phones swelling. One wrote Arun and said that every pre-Galaxy S20 phone they had back to the S4 has been upgraded.

The list of affected phones from the video includes the following:

  • Galaxy S6
  • Galaxy S8
  • Galaxy S10
  • Galaxy S10E
  • Galaxy S10 5G
  • Galaxy Note 8
  • Galaxy Z Fold 2
  • Galaxy S20FE

The latest phones on the list are only a few years old, so you can see that this isn’t just an issue for old devices.

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The problem goes beyond Samsung

Although many users, store workers and phone technicians report problems with Samsung phones, it doesn’t end there. While most cases of battery swelling affect Samsung phones, it seems to affect other Android phones as well.

PhoneArena conducted an audit of swollen phones, and here’s what it came up with:

  • One plus one
  • Samsung Galaxy S6
  • Samsung Galaxy S8
  • Huawei P10 Lite
  • Oppo R7

This is how you stay safe

A swollen battery is a serious problem that should not be taken lightly. This can result in fire, personal injury and property damage. There have been cases of people die from exploding phone batteries.

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Take a look at your old phones (or the one you currently use) and if you notice any swelling, here’s what you need to do:

  • Don’t try to charge a swollen phone: Charging a swollen battery can cause a fire or explosion.
  • Remove the battery: If you have an older phone with an easily removable battery, carefully separate the battery from the case. If you have a newer phone, do not attempt to remove the battery yourself.
  • Pack it up: Put the swollen phone in a fireproof bag.
  • Contact the manufacturer: If it’s an old device, you may not be able to exchange it or get anything for it, but you can at least recycle it or dispose of it properly. The point is to get that thing out of your house!

Even if you don’t have a swollen phone, here’s the right way to put it away:

  • Turn off the phone before storing it.
  • Store the phone in a cool, moisture-free environment.
  • Charge the phone to 50% if you plan to store it for a long time.
  • Half charge the phone every six months.

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