Smartphones are powered by lithium-ion batteries, and lithium-ion batteries can explode. It’s not terribly common these days, but it can happen. The public was made painfully aware of the realities of battery explosions back when Samsung had to recall the Galaxy Note 7 not once but twice before finally cancelling the phone entirely. The Note 7 batteries had a design defect that caused them to explode while charging, or even randomly while in use. It was scary of course, but it was also the exception to the rule. Severe battery defects like the one in the Galaxy Note 7 are quite rare. Most times when a smartphone battery explodes, it’s because the battery was damages as a result of some type of impact.
That brings us to a new report that popped up this weekend of an iPhone that exploded and burst into flames in a smartphone repair shop in Las Vegas, Nevada. This of course happens from time to time, but there’s something special about this particular incident: It was captured on video.
Now, before we get into this story and show you the video, it’s obviously important to note that you shouldn’t start to worry that your iPhone might explode when you least expect it. The iPhone at the center of this story was in a repair shop, so it was clearly damaged. The nature of the damage isn’t entirely clear at this time, but local ABC News affiliate KTNV 13 Action News was able to confirm that “the phone screen was being replaced after it cracked due to heat damage as the battery expanded.” That’s obviously only part of the story.
We’ve seen batteries balloon in the past in iPhones and other smartphones, and again, it’s almost always due to damage resulting from an impact of some kind. In this case, the handset in question was an old iPhone 6s and there’s no telling what kind of torture it was subjected to before it finally found its way to this unnamed repair shop in Las Vegas.
According to 13 Action News, and as we can clearly see in the video obtained by the local ABC affiliate, the phone was sitting on a desk when it exploded without warning. The repair technician jumped up when the phone burst into flames, and he told KTNV that he immediately ran to the phone to call for help. As can be seen in the video however, the flames spewing from the iPhone burned out in less than 15 seconds.
One last note before we show you the video: the KTNV report includes two pieces really, really bad “expert” advice about smartphone batteries. A so-called expert the news channel spoke with said that exposure to direct sunlight and overcharging can both potentially lead to battery explosions. They cannot. If a battery is already damaged or defective, extreme heat can certainly lead to an explosion. But the notion that a healthy battery can explode if you leave your phone in the sun or if you keep it plugged into a charger for too long is ridiculous.
The KTNV video of this iPhone explosion can be seen below.