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Why smartphone batteries explode, and why they may get worse

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James Bareham / The Verge

Samsung has officially recalled the Galaxy Note 7 worldwide, after more than 90 of the large smartphones in the US overheated due to defective batteries. Overheating is, in this case, an understatement, as some owners have claimed their smartphones outright exploded. Exploding lithium-ion batteries actually aren’t so uncommon. As my colleagues Angela Chen and Lauren Goode noted earlier this month, there are many ways for a lithium-ion battery to become dangerous, and they aren’t limited to any one smartphone or electronic device.

“An exploding phone seems like a freak accident,” write Chen and Goode, “but the same chemical properties that make batteries work also make them likely to catch fire.”

To learn more about the lithium-ion batteries, I invited The Verge’s science reporter Angela Chen to the show. We talk about how manufacturers are pushing the battery to its limit, and what alternatives we may see in the future.

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