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The J Spotter

Personal insights from the J Spot author J. Angelo Racoma
( this site has moved to http://jangelo.racoma.net )

The J Spotter » Yahoo! News - Exploding Cell Phones a Growing Problem

Yahoo! News - Exploding Cell Phones a Growing Problem

Buyers beware! This warning is especially for those who have bought their mobile phones from non-official distributors, such as those in stalls, in particular Greenhills-type shopping centres. It's a well-known fact in online techie communities (such as the BNC discussion forum) that such retailers usually replace original batteries with "Class A" (or fakes that are marked/labelled to pass off as original) batteries when selling mobile phones, even those considered "'brand new." This is more especially so, if the unit purchased is re-conditioned, refurbished, or re-constituted. It's not uncommon for stalls or fly-by-night operations to pass of recons/refurbs as "brand new."

I once experienced having a fake "Class A" lithium-ion type battery heat up and balloon/swell while charging, to the point that my phone would have been burned, or its innards might have been crushed due to the pressure that had built with the swelling battery pressed against it, had I not noticed the problem early on.

Lesson: never buy fake batteries. Mobile phone manuals clearly caution against this, and even to the point of voiding warranty if unauthorized third-party accessories are used. But given the thrifty Filipino consumer mindset, we would most likely consider original accessories as too expensive. I would hence suggest to opt for reputable third-party equipment/accessory providers, if you choose not to purchase OEM (original equipment manufacturer). Instead of buying the fake item marked as "Class A," for instance, you could go for branded accessories, such as Kingcom (which is available locally thru Wellcom and other mobile outlets).

While the U.S. experience points out that it is possible even for OEM batteries to cause untoward incidents, it's still best to stick with reputable brands, and avoid fakes.

An excerpt from the Yahoo News article (click here to read more):

Yahoo! News - Exploding Cell Phones a Growing Problem: "Exploding Cell Phones a Growing Problem

Wed Nov 24, 1:52 PM ET
By ELIZABETH WOLFE, Associated Press Writer

...

Burns to the face, neck, leg and hip are among the dozens of injury reports the Consumer Product Safety Commission has received. The agency is providing tips for cell phone users to avoid such accidents and has stepped up oversight of the wireless industry. There have been three voluntary battery recalls, and the CPSC is working with companies to create better battery standards.

...

U.S. phone makers and carriers say most fires and explosions are caused by counterfeit batteries and note that in a country with some 170 million cell phone users, the number of accidents is extremely low.

Some consumer advocates say the cause goes beyond bad batteries making their way to the market. They point to the increasing pressure on battery and phone makers to fit more capabilities into small instruments.

"If you're cramming more and more power in a small space, what you're making is a small bomb," said Carl Hilliard, president of the California-based Wireless Consumers Alliance, which has been tracking incidents of cell phone fires and explosions.

Though legitimate batteries can go wrong, there is a greater chance that poorly made, counterfeit ones will lack safety devices to detect overheating or overcharging. The lithium-ion batteries found in most cell phones can overheat if, for example, heat vents are covered.

...

"There needs to be high-quality batteries for these cell phones. You have a lot of power in a very small product, so it's really key," said Wolfson of the CPSC, which is participating in the meetings between wireless industry members and IEEE.

Carriers and manufacturers also are urging cellular users to exercise reasonable care of batteries, chargers and phones and to purchase them directly from phone companies rather than secondhand dealers or off the Internet.

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