Although the Galaxy Note 7 is the best-known example, the phenomenon of “spontaneous combustion” of phones left on charge is still a topical one, with the iPhone 14 providing the latest example. Here’s why you should never leave your phone charging unattended.
Generally associated with battery manufacturing defects, spontaneous combustion in mobile phones is a problem that can occur at any time, the “phenomenon” being a hazard of lithium battery technology that manufacturers have been trying to eliminate for years.
In the case of the famous Galaxy Note 7 series, the cause of the inconvenience was traced to the method of “packaging” the batteries produced in Samsung’s own SDI factories. Specifically, a miscalculation caused the battery pack to be pressed for final assembly into a shape a few tenths of a millimetre smaller than the physical size of the physical product, resulting in the battery deforming in ways unanticipated by the engineers who worked on its development.
Reported in the US state of Ohio, the incident caught on surveillance cameras shows an apparently perfectly good iPhone 14 left overnight to charge on the kitchen table. With no previously known malfunctions, the phone burst into flames in the middle of the night, captured on surveillance camera installed nearby.
The good news is that the kitchen table designed to withstand hot cooking pots did not contribute to the fire’s amplification, but the outcome could have been substantially different once the phone was placed closer to the living space. Incidentally, a conclusive example has already been reported from India, resulting in the death of the victim.