Under normal circumstances, it’s perfectly fine to keep using the phone while charging. You can continue performing any tasks you want, open your favorite apps, listen to music, watch a video, or do anything else you wish.
Having said that, you might have heard people getting hurt due to a phone explosion or it catching fire. So, what’s happening here? Isn’t it dangerous, you might ask?
Well, it’s very rare, but a phone can indeed explode and even burn like a piece of paper while charging. The main contributor to these types of incidents is your phone battery.
In this article, we explain how the battery works and charges to help you better understand what happens when you charge the phone while using it. Also, we have compiled a list of warning signs to prevent unpleasant incidents.
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Charging Mechanism in Your Phone
To keep your phone up and running, it needs some kind of energy, and the battery provides it by converting chemical energy into electrical energy. Most smartphones come with a Lithium-ion battery as its chemical composition is such that it has only one electron on its outermost orbit. Also, its batteries last longer and also charge quickly — making it a suitable element for a smartphones.
A Lithium-ion battery is basically made up of three components; a cathode (positive electrode), an anode (negative electrode), and a separator. The cathode is made up of Manganese, Cobalt, Nickel, etc. Likewise, the anode comprises graphite that contains Lithium between its layers.
The Lithium ions usually flow from the anode to the cathode, and once they all go to the cathode side, your battery charge is finished.
But when you charge your phone, they flow in the opposite direction. In this process, the electrolyte/separator helps the Lithium ions to move between the two electrodes while blocking the electrons from passing through to the other side.
Now, a phone is unlikely to explode even if you use it while charging. But the main reason it can happen is due to excessive heat, thus resulting in thermal runaway.
When the phone overheats and reaches its maximum temperature, a chain reaction occurs inside it and ignites the fire, which can even result in an explosion. Therefore, you should avoid overheating and look for signs that can lead to such incidents.
What Happens When You Use the Phone while Charging?
Even though your phone may not blast while charging and using it simultaneously, it has some adverse effects on the phone and the battery.
Battery Performance Degrades
Using the phone while charging causes it to overheat, and if you are doing it frequently, the battery performance declines even faster; thus, it wears out earlier than expected. On the other hand, your phone won’t charge at full speed, and it will take longer to charge fully.
Phone Overheats Faster
When you perform resource-intensive tasks like playing heavy mobile games, along with charging, it puts pressure on the phone and increases its temperature. The heat depends on how many applications you have opened and how long you have been using it while charging.
Also, the phone can overheat even faster if you are charging and using the phone despite having a low charge (below 15-20%). The optimum battery percentage to charge your phone is somewhere between 20% to 90%.
USB Port Becomes Loose or Damaged
When you connect the charger and use the phone, the charging cable goes through many twists and turns. So, it might break sooner, and the port can also become too loose, obstructing your charging process.
Signs You Shouldn’t Ignore
There are certain tell-tale signs that indicate your phone, specifically your battery, is having some severe issues and can lead to the phone catching fire or even an explosion.
The Battery is Swollen
If your battery looks swollen and your phone appears wobbly when placed on a flat surface, a chemical reaction might occur unexpectedly inside it, posing a dangerous fire hazard. Therefore, you should consider replacing such a battery as soon as possible.
And, even though most phones come with embedded batteries, you can still remove them. However, you should only consider doing it with the help of an expert repair technician or go to the phone manufacturer’s official repair center. This is because it can emit harmful fumes or catch fire if not dealt with appropriately.
Phone Heats up Too Much
While it’s quite normal for a phone to heat up when you use it on the charge, you should be careful when it starts to heat up more than it usually does. Some smartphones even warn when the mobile phone starts to overheat and asks to avoid using the phone to let it cool down.
However, if the phone overheats even when you are using none or light applications only, it might be a manufacturing defect (although very rare).
In this case, you should contact the manufacturer or the shop owner and ask for another one to be on the safe side.
Can Phones Really Explode While Charging?
An explosion is extremely rare, even if you use the phone while charging. However, when they occur, it’s generally because of the battery overheating, which in turn leads to a fire hazard and then an explosion.
Otherwise, it’s most likely a manufacturing defect that happened in the case of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7. Later, Samsung decided to discontinue the specific model’s production permanently.
Nonetheless, here are some factors that can cause these incidents.
Using Third-Party Mobile Parts
Generally, overheating happens when the device’s internal components, like the battery, have been changed/modified and replaced with a non-genuine part. Also, it can occur if you use a third-party charger to charge your phone.
Therefore, make sure you always use genuine parts, and even if you use a genuine battery, don’t throw away the old one just yet. Since the battery contains highly reactive chemicals like lithium, dispose of it appropriately.
Using the Phone Under Extreme Temperature
If you use the phone in scorching hot conditions, it can heat up quickly and cause it to overheat. This may result in a swollen battery, and if it leaks, it could explode as Lithium is highly reactive to air and water. The chances of a battery swelling or expanding due to extreme temperature are slim, but you shouldn’t completely ignore it for your safety.
On the other hand, you should avoid using the phone while charging anywhere near water, especially having a bath, as it can get wet and you can get electrocuted.
What Happens if You Leave Your Phone Charging Overnight?
Smartphones these days are smart enough to stop overcharging and automatically stop charging when the battery level reaches its total capacity. Therefore, you can leave the phone charging as long as you like. But don’t put it under the pillow, so it doesn’t cause overheating issues.
Despite your phone containing a reactive element like Lithium, the manufacturers take great care in designing and testing them. Every phone goes through various quality control tests, and different safety checks are performed to ensure the phone is safe to use. Furthermore, the phones must meet the industry safety standards before being approved and sent to the market.
So, except for extreme cases like a swollen battery or the signs mentioned earlier, you can use the mobile device while charging without worrying too much.