While Apple’s front-runner for 2017 — the iPhone X — is yet to be launched, its recently launched devices, the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are plagued with issues. While the company sorted out its earpiece crackling issue with a software update, the iPhone 8 Series is now facing a more serious issue as reports of the device cracking due to the battery swelling abound on social media platforms like Twitter.
Reports have emerged from China and Taiwan, where the device has been selling in large numbers, stating that the device’s battery swells up while being charged, causing the device to crack open.
Some users are even reporting that their handsets arrive with the issue, which renders them unusable.
The reports have prompted Apple to take notice as reported by Reuters, which quoted an Apple spokesperson as saying that the company is looking into the matter.
Millions of iPhone 8 units have already been sold, which means that the company could have a big issue on its hands, especially post the Note 7 crisis last year. The Verge contacted an expert on the matter, Sam Jaffe, the managing director of Cairn Energy Research Advisors, who stated in a phone call with the publication: “[Swelling is] very unusual for a brand-new battery and leads toward the direction of there’s something fundamentally wrong with this battery.”
He further stated that the smartphone industry has reached a limit with the lithium-ion battery and could produce designs with an increased risk of short-circuiting in an attempt to store more power in regular-size batteries.
Whether the issue is a large supply chain one, or one just impacting a small number of devices is not yet known.
“It could be just a random distribution. Just a random event, and it’s only a few,” Jaffe said.
The battery does not explode, it simply swells up, indicating that the company has some kind of safety mechanism that prevents this from happening.
“Swelling is always a precursor when there is a battery fire, but the percentage of actual fires are pretty rare. In the Galaxy Note case, there were probably a couple hundred battery failures of one sort or another, but there were only a handful of fires — so that gives you a sense of the proportion of actual fires,” Jaffe further said, indicating that the Apple iPhone 8 may not go the Note 7 way.
Post the Note 7 crisis last year, the smartphone industry has been looking into alternatives for lithium-ion batteries. Samsung the one stung by battery issues the most in recent years is reportedly working on solid-state batteries, which have a lesser chance of exploding.
Researchers have also developed water-based zinc batteries, which can help people avoid the safety issues with Lithium-ion batteries since they use a material 3D zinc sponge instead of Lithium. This material ensures that the electric current is evenly distributed within the battery, and this does not let dendrites form in the battery, due to excessive charges — the basic reason for battery swelling.
It seems that issues with smartphone batteries such as the present one with the iPhone 8, might force the industry to move faster in that direction, and could result in smartphones with such batteries by the end of next year.