OUTXE Savage 2000mAh Rugged Portable Battery Review

OUTXE Savage 20,000mAh Rugged Power Bank

Our verdict of the OUTXE Savage 20,000mAh Power Bank:If you’re looking for a tough battery and you don’t mind the weight, the Savage will do the trick. Keep in mind there are tougher models with the full IP68 rating on the market though.710There’s no shortage of portable rechargeable batteries on the market. Manufacturers have started adding new features in a bid to make their lumps of lithium stand out from the rest. One such manufacturer is OUTXE, who have produced a rugged dust and water resistant battery with dual inputs and outputs. In addition to offering quick charging, it’s got…

Read the full article: OUTXE Savage 2000mAh Rugged Portable Battery Review

OUTXE Savage 20,000mAh Rugged Power Bank
Our verdict of the OUTXE Savage 20,000mAh Power Bank:
If you're looking for a tough battery and you don't mind the weight, the Savage will do the trick. Keep in mind there are tougher models with the full IP68 rating on the market though.
710

There’s no shortage of portable rechargeable batteries on the market. Manufacturers have started adding new features in a bid to make their lumps of lithium stand out from the rest.

One such manufacturer is OUTXE, who have produced a rugged dust and water resistant battery with dual inputs and outputs. In addition to offering quick charging, it’s got a flashlight and a solar panel to help you out in emergencies.

OUTXE Quick Charge 20000mAh Waterproof Power Bank with Flashlight 4A Dual Input Rugged Portable Charger OUTXE Quick Charge 20000mAh Waterproof Power Bank with Flashlight 4A Dual Input Rugged Portable Charger Buy Now At Amazon $47.99

At just over $50, is this the high capacity rugged battery you’ve been looking for? Read on to find out, and at the end of this review, we’re giving one away to one lucky reader.

I’ve Got the Power

There’s only so much to be said about rechargeable battery. This particular portable power pack will charge two devices at the same time, with its two outputs being:

  • Output 1: USB Type-A delivering 5V/3A, 9V/2A, and 12V/1.5A.
  • Output 2: USB Type-A delivering 5V/2.4A

There are also two inputs, which you can use at the same time to charge the battery twice as fast. This is a neat feature, with the cables you need included in the box, but no wall adapter. Separately these two inputs offer:

  • Input 1: Micro USB accepting 5V/2A.
  • Input 2: USB-C accepting 5V/3A.

Depending on how you charge the device, your charge time varies. The fastest charging method, using both inputs, takes around seven hours. If you go the USB-C route you can expect a full charge to take around 11 hours. The weaker micro USB port brings a full charge up to 13 hours.

OUTXE Savage 20,000mAh Power Bank

Note that you can’t use the 5V/3A input to charge from older computer USB ports. I experienced this on my mid-2012 MacBook Pro, and macOS gave me an error explaining that a device was using too much power. The other input worked fine, though charging via a low powered USB ports takes forever.

There’s a solar panel on top of the device, offering a 2W converter with a full charge quoted at around 75 hours. Of course, you’re not meant to rely on the solar charger and manufacturers recommend topping up from mains power before you head outside.

It’s a nice feature to have in a pinch, and passively charging all day will help keep the battery topped up. The solar panel is always active, whenever enough light is detected. There’s a red LED that lights up to let you know you’re topping up.

OUTXE Savage 20,000mAh Power Bank

In the box you’ll also get a USB-A to USB-C cable, and a micro USB to USB Type-A cable. These are likely limited to 5V/3A maximum, as per the specified power draw. That means these cables won’t double up as fast chargers.

OUTXE stress that their batteries include protection agains over charging, over discharging, overheating, and short circuiting. There’s also a built in “self protection mode” which causes all indicators to flash, letting you know you need to charge the battery as soon as possible to avoid damage.

Assault and Battery

OUTXE stands for Outdoor Extreme. The company’s strapline is “Outdoor Extreme Energy” and the box describes the power bank as a “Savage” 20,000mAh rugged power bank. It seems they’re keen to prove a point.

OUTXE Savage 20,000mAh Power Bank

The battery ships with an IP66 water and dust resistant rating. As a result, the device is dust tight, and protected against heavy seas or powerful jets of water. It falls short of the IP67 rating, which allows devices to be submerged entirely.

I tested this by covering the battery with a strong hose, and the water protection seems to have held up just fine. One thing I noticed is that water tends to get stuck in the screw holes, so it’s best to give the battery a good bash against something to get it all out.

While the outer chassis is rubber and plastic, the ports are covered by tough rubber flaps that sit nicely within the battery’s four power ports. They’re quite tight to close, at least on new models, and they need some serious force in order to close and open them.

OUTXE Savage 20,000mAh Power Bank

Only time will tell how long they’ll remain this way, and it’s probably the weakest part of the whole “rugged” construction. As you’d expect, these covers flap around a bit while charging. I’m not sure the rubber holding these flaps to the battery is going to last long, since it’s so thin.

The battery is housed within a 2.5mm thick black plastic outer shell. On the corners are rubber impact protectors. These protectors are plasticky, non-grippy rubber which offers moderate protection for common impact zones. Inside, OUTXE put EVA shock-absorbant pads on the battery.

Despite the tough talk, OUTXE recommend that you “do not knock, drop or puncture the product.” This is par for the course in terms of sensible recommendations from manufacturers, but it seems  slightly odd given the language they’ve used to describe the product and its unique selling point.

OUTXE Savage 20,000mAh Power Bank

A surprisingly useful feature is the flashlight, which offers up to 35 hours of light on a full battery. There are three modes: bright, weak, and an SOS function. It’s a handy feature that will appeal to outdoor enthusiasts, with a bright LED. It could even double as a tent light when hung from the included karabiners.

The Only USB Charging Bank You Need?

At 20,000mAh, OUTXE have produced a high capacity cell that pushes the limits of what you’d want to carry around all day. While the battery might fit in your largest pockets, at 1.16lbs (530g) you won’t want it there for long.

That said, the design is a pleasing one. The battery is narrow enough to comfortably grip in one hand, and that makes the difference when using the flashlight function. It’s not awkward to hold or pick up, and the ridges etched into the front and sides of the outer shell provide a decent amount of grip.

OUTXE Savage 20,000mAh Power Bank

There’s enough juice to charge your smartphone and other devices multiple times. A full charge is enough to refill the iPhone X’s 2,716mAh battery over seven times. For the Pixel 2 XL (3,250mAh) that’s at least five full charges. While the battery will charge the Nintendo Switch in standby mode, you can’t play games and charge at the same time.

This is a serious battery, not designed to top up your smartphone at the end of the day. Rather, it can provide multiple refills from empty. You won’t be carrying it in your pocket. It’ll live in your bag, or strapped to the outside of it.

This is made possible by two fabric loops on the battery chassis, and two karabiners included in the box. You can use these to strap it to a bag, stop it moving around, and make sure the solar panel is properly exposed at all times.

OUTXE Savage 20,000mAh Power Bank

It’s all backed up with an 18-month manufacturer’s warranty, which is a good sign that OUTXE have faith in their own product.

Cannot Stop the Battery

OUTXE have come up with a thoughtful design that’s ideal for longer trips, camping expeditions, and outdoor adventures. It’s ideal for charging your smartphones and tablets, certain cameras and consoles, headphones, bike lights, and other USB-powered gadgets.

OUTXE Quick Charge 20000mAh Waterproof Power Bank with Flashlight 4A Dual Input Rugged Portable Charger OUTXE Quick Charge 20000mAh Waterproof Power Bank with Flashlight 4A Dual Input Rugged Portable Charger Buy Now At Amazon $47.99

Despite being tough, you should probably opt for an IP68 rated power bank if you’re buying purely for rugged use (OUTXE make those too). If the weight and size of this battery doesn’t bother you, you can do much worse at this price point.

OUTXE Savage 20,000mAh Power Bank

The Savage is designed for small devices, rather than large ones. You’ll need to pick a different power bank if you want to charge your USB-C laptop.

Want to win one for yourself? Enter our competition below!

Enter the Competition!

Outxe Savage 2000mAh Rugged Portable Battery Giveaway

Read the full article: OUTXE Savage 2000mAh Rugged Portable Battery Review

The 6 Best Laptop Power Banks to Recharge Your Computer Anywhere

powerbank-laptop

Power efficiency plays huge role in extending the battery life of portable devices. As battery technology stagnates, hardware manufacturers are working on doing more with the power they already have. That means new laptops use less power than older laptops did. Not only does this extend your existing battery life, it makes charging your machine with a portable battery pack a more viable option. So here are six battery packs that’ll charge your laptop on the go, and a few features to remember when shopping around. Make Sure Your Laptop Is Compatible! For best results, your laptop will need to…

Read the full article: The 6 Best Laptop Power Banks to Recharge Your Computer Anywhere

Power efficiency plays huge role in extending the battery life of portable devices. As battery technology stagnates, hardware manufacturers are working on doing more with the power they already have.

That means new laptops use less power than older laptops did. Not only does this extend your existing battery life, it makes charging your machine with a portable battery pack a more viable option.

So here are six battery packs that’ll charge your laptop on the go, and a few features to remember when shopping around.

Make Sure Your Laptop Is Compatible!

For best results, your laptop will need to use the USB Power Delivery (PD) standard. A few examples include the latest line of MacBook Pro models, the Dell XPS 13, and Google’s Pixelbook. We’ve thrown together a list of laptops you can charge using a USB power bank.

The exact power drain will differ with every machine. Aim for at least a 30W USB-PD rating, though there exist some pricier alternatives that can output 100W and beyond. To find out which is best for you, check your model’s power ratings as per the manufacturer specifications.

Even if your laptop ships with a 60W or 100W charger, a 30W USB-PD battery will still work. It just won’t charge your laptop as quickly. In some instances, the laptop you’re trying to charge won’t increase its charge percentage while plugged in (but will still extend your overall life).

1. Mophie Powerstation AC

mophie powerstation AC Laptop Battery Pack

mophie powerstation powerstation AC - External Battery - Made for Laptops, Tablets, Smartphones and other USB & AC devices - Black mophie powerstation powerstation AC - External Battery - Made for Laptops, Tablets, Smartphones and other USB & AC devices - Black Buy Now At Amazon $199.95

The powerstation AC is a beast that can charge just about every device in your bag. It’s armed with a bona fide AC port that provides 100W of power at 110V, a USB-C charging port that delivers 30W, and a standard USB-A port with 2.4A quick charge ability.

Best of all, you can use all these outputs at once to charge three separate devices. The battery holds a generous 22,000mAh which is enough to power a 90W laptop for an hour. If you’re using a USB-C laptop that only draws 30W, you’ll get 15 hours out of it. Most smartphones will exceed 100 hours.

The drawback is that it’s not cheap, and fairly heavy. Weighing in at 26.7oz, the powerstation AC will have to live in your bag rather than your pocket. It’s wrapped in a tactile fabric finish, and allows for passthrough charging that will give your devices priority before charging the internal cell.

2. Jackery PowerBar

Jackery PowerBar Laptop Power Bank

AC Outlet Portable Laptop Charger, Jackery PowerBar 77Wh/20800mAh 85W (100W Max.) Travel Laptop Power Bank & External Battery Pack for MacBook, HP, Thinkpad, Notebook and other Laptops AC Outlet Portable Laptop Charger, Jackery PowerBar 77Wh/20800mAh 85W (100W Max.) Travel Laptop Power Bank & External Battery Pack for MacBook, HP, Thinkpad, Notebook and other Laptops Buy Now At Amazon $129.99

If you’re looking for a cheaper high-output laptop power pack than the mophie above, check out the Jackery PowerBar. It provides an 85W output with a 20,800mAh built-in battery, for around half the price of the mophie.

The sacrifice you make is the brand, a slightly lower capacity, and the 85W cap (which is still enough to charge a 15-inch MacBook Pro with USB-PD at full speed). The Jackery includes a full-sized AC output, two USB-A ports, and a USB-C port. These include support for 5V at 2.4A (USB-A) and the 3A USB-C quick charge standard.

Be aware that this power pack includes a fan to keep the internals cool, so it’s not dead silent like your standard smartphone batteries. It weighs in at 24.3oz, and it’s also available in a higher-capacity 23,200mAh version if you’re willing to pay more.

3. TYLT Energi Pro Power Backpack

TYLT Energi Pro Power Backpack Laptop Power Bank

TYLT Energi Pro Power Backpack with Charging Station - Charge Up to 3 Devices at Once via USB or USB Type-C Ports, TSA Approved Laptop and Mobile Device Travel Bag with Built-in Power Bank TYLT Energi Pro Power Backpack with Charging Station - Charge Up to 3 Devices at Once via USB or USB Type-C Ports, TSA Approved Laptop and Mobile Device Travel Bag with Built-in Power Bank Buy Now At Amazon $149.99

If you in the market for a laptop power bank, you’re probably already aware that it’s going to weigh quite a bit. One remedy to this situation is to carry a comfortable bag built with cable management in mind. The TYLT Energi Pro is one such bag.

Capable of storing a 15″ laptop with 11 separate charging pockets, the TYLT has internal routing to keep everything tidy. It ships with a 20,100mAh quick charge battery that can output 45W in USB-PD mode, enough for most light laptops like Apple’s MacBook and Google’s Pixelbook.

The battery back includes two USB-A outputs, a USB-C output (with 3A quick charge) and a micro-USB input for charging. The bag is TSA-friendly for frequent fliers, and features an RFID blocking pouch plus “weather resistant” pockets to keep its contents dry.

4. RAVPower 26800 PD

RAVPower 26800 PD Laptop Power Bank

USB C Power Bank RAVPower 26800 PD Portable Charger 26800mAh (Fast Recharged in 4.5 Hours &USB-C Input, 30W Type-C Output) for Nintendo Switch, USB Type-C Laptops, 2016 MacBook Power Delivery Support USB C Power Bank RAVPower 26800 PD Portable Charger 26800mAh (Fast Recharged in 4.5 Hours &USB-C Input, 30W Type-C Output) for Nintendo Switch, USB Type-C Laptops, 2016 MacBook Power Delivery Support Buy Now At Amazon $81.99

While many of the chargers on this list emphasize high power output and extreme capacity, this RAVPower keeps it fairly simple. The 26,800mAh capacity is within the limit set by many airlines, and the star feature is the fast recharge of around five hours using the USB-C input.

RAVPower built this to stay well within the 30W specification. Thus, it’s best for less thirsty machines like the standard MacBook or Dell XPS 13 (but will still work with more demanding models). You get a single USB-C PD output, and two USB-A 5V/2.4A fast charge ports for smartphones.

This battery has received great reviews, notably for its capacity and fast charging over USB-C. It’s also the cheapest charger on this list.

5. MaxOak MacBook Charger

MaxOak MacBook Charger with USB-PD

MAXOAK Type-C Power Bank for Apple Laptop MacBook Pro/Air MacBook 2006-2018 36000mAh 5/9/12/15/20V PD USB-C External Battery Pack Portable Charger W/2USB for Mac Notebook Phone(Recharge by AC/USB-C) MAXOAK Type-C Power Bank for Apple Laptop MacBook Pro/Air MacBook 2006-2018 36000mAh 5/9/12/15/20V PD USB-C External Battery Pack Portable Charger W/2USB for Mac Notebook Phone(Recharge by AC/USB-C) Buy Now At Amazon $135.99

If you have a MacBook made between 2006 and 2018, MaxOak’s MacBook Charger is for you. It offers a staggering 36,000mAh capacity, which means it’s above the 27,000mAh limit set by many (but not all) airlines. It’s also quite heavy as a result, weighing in at 1.98 pounds.

It comes with every type of MacBook adapter, and it’s also compatible with USB-C PD to power other laptops up to 45W. It’ll charge an iPhone X nearly nine times, or double the life of your 15-inch MacBook Pro. It’s even been styled to perfectly complement your Apple gadgets.

In total there are four outputs, and you can use all of them at the same time. One 16.8V/4.6A output for MagSafe 1 and 2 devices, one USB-C PD up to 45W, and two other 5V/2.1A USB-A adapters for smartphones and tablets. MaxOak rates the charger for 1,000 cycles, and it’s fairly well-priced considering the capacity and flexibility on offer.

6. EcoFlow RIVER

EcoFlow RIVER Laptop Battery Pack

EF EcoFlow RIVER Portable Power Station - 500W Mega Capacity Portable Generator with 11 Assorted USB and Plug Outlets EF EcoFlow RIVER Portable Power Station - 500W Mega Capacity Portable Generator with 11 Assorted USB and Plug Outlets Buy Now At Amazon $598.99

This isn’t a portable battery for regular use; in fact, it won’t even fit comfortably in most bags. Instead, it’s the perfect oversized power solution for your car, mobile home, camping trip, or anywhere else that lacks a power outlet.

Featuring a total of 11 outputs, the RIVER provides two AC, two DC, a single 12V car, two USB-C with Power Delivery, and four USB-A outlets (two of which feature 5V/2.4A quick charge). It’ll hold its 412Wh charge for up to a year too.

It’ll fully recharge in six hours using the included AC input, or nine hours with the included car charger. You’ll get more than five full laptop charges out of it, and you can use all 11 outputs simultaneously. At 11lbs, it’s not light but comes with a built-in carry handle. Throw it in the car and work from your camping tent all weekend!

Keep Working Wherever You Are With Power Banks

Whether you’re using a brand new USB-C PD laptop or an old AC powered model, these chargers should keep you going regardless of where you are.

If you’re looking for something simple to charge your smartphone, make sure you check out our list of all-around USB chargers too.

Read the full article: The 6 Best Laptop Power Banks to Recharge Your Computer Anywhere

MacBook Battery Replacement: 4 Options, From the Safest to the Least

macbook-battery-replacement

Your MacBook’s battery is likely the first component you’ll need to replace. Apple makes reliable machines, but battery technology means most cells only last a few years before their capacity seriously diminishes. A battery replacement is a great way to breathe new life into an old MacBook. Here are your options when it comes to replacing it, and how you know it’s time to do so. Check Your MacBook Battery Status The easiest way to check the current status of your battery is to hold the Option key and click on your battery percentage icon in the menu bar at…

Read the full article: MacBook Battery Replacement: 4 Options, From the Safest to the Least

macbook-battery-replacement

Your MacBook’s battery is likely the first component you’ll need to replace. Apple makes reliable machines, but battery technology means most cells only last a few years before their capacity seriously diminishes.

A battery replacement is a great way to breathe new life into an old MacBook. Here are your options when it comes to replacing it, and how you know it’s time to do so.

Check Your MacBook Battery Status

The easiest way to check the current status of your battery is to hold the Option key and click on your battery percentage icon in the menu bar at the top of the screen.

MacBook Battery Condition

You’ll see one of these four notes on the battery’s condition:

  • Normal: Your battery doesn’t need replacement.
  • Replace Soon: The battery holds less charge than it did when new.
  • Replace Now: Your battery hold significantly less charge than it did when new.
  • Service Battery: The system has detected a fault with your battery.

That should give you some indication of how necessary a battery replacement is. But you can also view the exact number of charge and discharge cycles. To do this:

  1. Click on the Apple logo in the top-left corner of the screen.
  2. Select About This Mac, then System Report.
  3. Click Power and scroll down to Cycle Count.

The number of cycles should give you a good idea of how long your battery has left before requiring replacement. Different MacBooks have ratings for different cycle counts, so you’ll need to cross-reference your result with the ratings on Apple’s Support website.

macOS System Report

Finally, if you’ve noticed your battery life has become significantly worse of late, you may decide that it’s time for a service anyway. Use your own judgement to weigh up if the cost is worth it to you.

Option 1: Replace With Your Apple Warranty

If your MacBook is still under warranty, Apple will replace a faulty or degraded battery free of charge. In the US, Apple provides a limited one-year warranty. For those in the EU and Australia, consumer law extends this coverage to two years.

If you purchase AppleCare for your MacBook, this coverage extends to three years. Speaking from experience, Apple replaced my MacBook battery at no cost two weeks before my AppleCare coverage expired, so it’s worth a shot.

Find Your Mac Serial Number

You can check your warranty status on Apple’s Service and Support Coverage website using your machine’s serial number. Find your serial number by clicking the Apple icon at the top of the screen and selecting About This Mac.

If you don’t have warranty coverage for a battery replacement, let’s look at your other options.

Option 2: Replace at an Apple Service Center

Apple recommends you use first-party or third-party authorized service centers to replace your battery. This is generally the most expensive option, but it’s also the safest. The procedure is less likely to go wrong, and Apple provides a 90-day guarantee for any work performed.

Assuming the service isn’t covered by warranty or consumer law, the cost of the repairs will vary from $129 for a MacBook Air to $199 for a MacBook Pro with Retina Display. If your MacBook is especially old, you may be better off putting that money toward a replacement instead.

MacBook Battery Replacement Costs

Head to Apple’s Mac Service and Repair website and click Start a service request to begin. If there are no Apple stores nearby, the website will suggest authorized third parties who can perform the work instead. These technicians undergo the same training as Apple’s, and provide the same guarantees.

Benefits: Your MacBook is guaranteed against defects resulting from the work, your replacement will be a genuine first party product, and the work shouldn’t take more than a day or so.

Option 3: Replace at a Computer Repair Shop

If you want to save some money, you could always pay a third party to replace your battery for you. Many computer repair shops will source and replace your battery, though the exact cost will vary based on who you approach.

MacBook Repair
Image credit: David O’Brien/Flickr

Going this route forgoes Apple’s guarantees, and you may find that they use third-party parts in an attempt to save money. These parts aren’t necessarily inferior, but it’s a risk you take. Check out computer repair repair shops in your area for quotes, then compare them to what Apple offers.

Depending on the model, your local repair shop may refuse service if your battery is glued in place.

Benefits: You’ll probably save some money at the cost of not having an Apple-certified technician perform the repairs. Third parties may also use cheaper parts to reduce cost, meaning they’re more likely to break early.

Option 4: Replace It Yourself

The cheapest option by far, ordering your own battery and replacing it yourself means you’ll only pay the cost of the parts. You’ll need a set of tools to open up your Mac, an anti-static wrist band, and the replacement battery itself.

Much of the time, you can buy kits that provide everything you need. These come at roughly half the price Apple will charge you for the service. One such retailer is iFixit, which also provides guides to everything from simple fixes to complex teardowns.

iFixit MacBook Battery Kit

Buying the battery alone should cost even less than this, with cheap third-party options available for a fraction of the price. We’d recommend only buying from a company you trust, with a strong reputation for providing quality parts.

If you’re not sure what you’re doing, the risks of something going wrong are much higher. If you’re happy to take the risk and follow how-to guides to the letter, you’ll learn a lot about the inner workings of your computer. You might even enjoy the process!

Unfortunately, some MacBook models have glued-in batteries, making them incredibly difficult to repair yourself. iFixit now has a MacBook Pro with Retina Display battery kit, but warns that it’s for experienced users and comes with some serious work.

Benefits: By taking matters into your own hands, you’ll save a lot of money at the cost of your own time and the risk of something going wrong.

Don’t Forget to Recycle Responsibly

WEEE/Recycle

If you do go for this option, make sure you recycle the spent battery responsibly.

Lithium batteries need to be recycled properly to prevent harm to yourself, others, and the environment. Check with your local waste management authorities how best to recycle your old laptop battery—don’t just throw it in the trash or with your regular recycling.

Most local governments will have dropoff points or collection schemes that emphasize safety and sustainability. If you choose to let Apple service your laptop, it will take care of the battery and recycle it for you (but unfortunately doesn’t offer a drop-off service).

Not Sure How to Replace Your MacBook Battery?

If your laptop is old and you’re not sure whether or not it’s worth replacing the internal battery, you could always consider external power solutions. Battery packs that can power your MacBook are now a reality, and you can use them again to power your new MacBook when it’s time for a replacement.

Once you get a battery replacement or a new Mac machine, make sure you know how to improve your Mac battery life and keep it healthy for some time.

Read the full article: MacBook Battery Replacement: 4 Options, From the Safest to the Least

Why Smartphone Batteries Explode and How to Prevent It

smartphones-explode-prevent

Yes, that little smartphone you keep in your pocket has the potential to burst—and it’s not limited to exploding Samsung batteries. A lithium-ion battery is the same no matter what device it’s in, and they all carry identical risks. What are these risks? And how can you reduce them with your phone? That’s what we’re going to explore in this article. Smartphone Battery Explosions: The Facts We don’t have a bunch of doom-and-gloom fear-mongering stories for you. Yes, your phone can explode. But no, it’s isn’t likely to happen at all. Modern lithium-ion batteries—today’s preferred rechargeable batteries for everything from…

Read the full article: Why Smartphone Batteries Explode and How to Prevent It

smartphones-explode-prevent

Yes, that little smartphone you keep in your pocket has the potential to burst—and it’s not limited to exploding Samsung batteries. A lithium-ion battery is the same no matter what device it’s in, and they all carry identical risks.

What are these risks? And how can you reduce them with your phone? That’s what we’re going to explore in this article.

Smartphone Battery Explosions: The Facts

We don’t have a bunch of doom-and-gloom fear-mongering stories for you. Yes, your phone can explode. But no, it’s isn’t likely to happen at all.

Modern lithium-ion batteries—today’s preferred rechargeable batteries for everything from smartphones to Tesla vehicles—have the capacity to be highly explosive.

Have a look at this thermal video of a lithium-ion battery cell under “heat abuse” for two minutes:

The point of explosion is sudden and extremely hot.

But outside of a lab where people apply an extremely hot source to the battery, how do these batteries explode in the real world?

Here is the sequence of events that happen inside a lithium-ion battery before and during an explosion:

  • One area of the battery starts getting too hot due to a short-circuit in the charging circuit, or some other external cause.
  • The chemical reaction inside the hot area begins generating its own heat as well, which spreads to other areas in a process known as electrolyte overheat.
  • Eventually, this building heat causes the electrolyte to give off stream, which bursts the battery casing.
  • Very flammable, hot liquid (not unlike napalm) escapes and usually burns or melts the surrounding phone casing and whatever the phone is next to.

This reaction, known as “thermal runaway,” does sound pretty horrendous, but there’s one fact that should set your mind at ease: manufacturers are constantly implementing new safety features in lithium-ion batteries that reduce the likelihood of this happening, or at least reduce the damage caused when it does.

Smartphone Battery Safety Features

Some of these safety features include:

  • Non-flammable additives added to the electrolyte and battery coatings.
  • Built-in circuitry that protects against current surges.
  • Circuit interrupt devices that open the circuit if the cell pressure exceeds safe limits.
  • Fail-safe safety vents that release gases if the cell expands beyond a higher safety limit.
  • Thermal fuses that break the circuit when temperatures reach a safety limit.

So for a healthy battery installed inside the average phone, the worse-case scenario before the battery ever reaches this nightmare “thermal runaway” scenario is a message that the phone needs to shut down. Or the battery may simply stop working.

Still, there are situations that could still cause a battery to explode.

1. Dropping and Damaging the Battery

As mentioned above, everything will work fine so long as you are dealing with a healthy battery. One problem that can negatively affect a battery’s health is physical damage from drops.

Cracked iPhone

Most people will rush to a local repair center to get their screen repaired when this happens. If the phone still works, they don’t even give a second thought to what damage the battery might have sustained.

Unfortunately, a drop can alter the internal mechanical or chemical structure of the battery. These changes could cause any of the fail-safe circuitry to fail in extreme stress conditions.

How can you tell if a battery might be damaged? Open up the case and take a look at the battery. If any of the following conditions exist, consider replacing it immediately:

  • Swelling
  • Deformation
  • Frequent, unexplainable overheating

In many situations, you can avoid explosive battery failure by paying close attention to signs of existing battery damage. For a smartphone battery to be safe, all its built-in safety features need to function properly. So it’s important to never use a battery that has visible signs of damage.

2. Hot Temperatures and Environments

While there may be safeguards built into your battery to ensure that it sheds excessive heat, or shuts down when too hot, it’s important to keep the battery away from those temperature limits in the first place.

Many elements contribute to your phone naturally heating up. Those include:

  • Running intensive graphics that put a heavy load on the GPU
  • Using apps that put too much demand on the CPU
  • Widgets that run constantly while you’re multitasking with the phone
  • Regularly connectivity checks when your cellular or Wi-Fi connection is spotty
  • Long phone calls

Normally any of these uses are fine, but if you’re doing them in an environment that’s extra hot, you could run into trouble. For example, using a phone in direct sunlight at the pool, while listening to Spotify and browsing the web, makes an already straining smartphone struggle to cool itself.

Hot phone by pool

Even if this doesn’t cause the battery to explode, it can contribute to the aging process and make getting long battery life a challenge.

Charging your phone under these conditions can contribute to overheating even further. The phone naturally builds heat during charging.

There are many ways to keep your phone cool and avoid these problems:

  • Remove the phone from its case when you’re charging it.
  • Keep the phone out of direct sunlight whenever possible.
  • Don’t leave your phone in a hot car for extended periods.
  • Don’t charge the phone while it’s in a pocket or inside a bag, or any other place that can trap heat.

We’ve offered many ways to avoid overheating an Android phone, and tips to keep your iPhone cool. Following these is an important part of being a wise smartphone user.

3. Using the Wrong Charger

I purchased a first-generation Google Pixel when it launched. Not knowing that the Pixel requires a cable with a built-in 56k Ohm resistor conforming to Type C specifications, I grabbed a cheap cable in the checkout line at Walmart to charge it.

I incorrectly assumed all USB-C cables are manufactured the same. The reality is that manufacturers of cheap chargers produce cables that do not always meet specifications required by USB-C devices.

After some time using it, I started noticing my phone became especially hot during charging.

Charging smartphone

One day when I went to charge my phone in my car, the phone became extremely hot and the charger actually became stuck in the charger port. As I was trying to pull it out, a small puff of smoke came out of the charger port.

I’m lucky I didn’t experience a smartphone exploding in my face.

Thankfully, Verizon replaced the phone under the manufacturer’s warranty. But the lesson I learned was an important one: Buy brand-name chargers from reputable retailers!

You can buy non-OEM chargers, but you need to make sure they meet all specifications required by your phone. Cheap knockoff chargers like these use materials with sub-standard quality or an incorrect gauge of wire that lacks appropriate overcurrent protection.

If you don’t invest in a quality charger, you can run into charging problems at best. At worst, you’re risking not only the destruction of your expensive phone, but possible injury to yourself.

4. Getting Your Phone Wet

Lithium will ignite and burn when in contact with water or water vapor. Batteries come well-sealed, so that kind of contact shouldn’t happen normally.

Many modern phones are waterproof or water-resistant. However, combine a cheap smartphone with a punctured battery, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

5. Battery Punctures

Lithium reacts to both water and oxygen, so puncturing a lithium-ion battery will produce a reaction. This could be anything from a little bit of smoke and a terrible smell to a full-on explosion.

And the reaction is rapid.

Obviously, this means there’s always a danger if a smartphone gets punctured during an accident or any other violent situation.

Staying Safe With Smartphone Batteries

It’s important to keep in mind that the battery inside your smartphone has the capacity to become a dangerous hazard under extreme conditions.

So the idea is to avoid those extreme conditions. Store, charge, and treat your smartphone in a way so that should anything ever happen, you are protected from serious injury.

To learn more, check out some common misconceptions about smartphone batteries.

Image Credit: weerapat/Depositphotos

Read the full article: Why Smartphone Batteries Explode and How to Prevent It