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Flaming Cellphones

michael posted about 11 years ago | from the good-name-for-a-rock-band dept.

Handhelds 288

phorm writes "Many of us have heard the urban legend of cellphones causing fires at the gas pump, but how about the hazards of replacement batteries? Reuters is carrying a story about a woman whose cellphone burst into flame, causing her superficial burn injuries. According to Nokia, the problem has occured before, and is related to non-brand replacement batteries. For various reasons, these batteries may overheat and catch fire, or even explode! So far I haven't found much info on whether this has happened with other brands of phone, though I do know that my little flip-phone gets very hot when running in analog mode. Perhaps some slashdot readers have had a similar experience?"

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Fist Sport (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6770251)

I hear Linux Fags like to stick hot phones up their assholes. Vibrating ringtones ahoy!

Quick! (4, Funny)

briancollins (700695) | about 11 years ago | (#6770257)

Call the fire brigade!

Quick!-Gas tank. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6770312)

I'm wondering. Do you have to hit these phones from behind?

Re:Quick! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6770439)

How did this get a redundant moderation? Its the first comment! It's redundant to what? Previous comments?

Re:Quick! (0, Offtopic)

HBI (604924) | about 11 years ago | (#6770480)

Apparently the mods aren't Python fans tonight.

It got a chuckle from me though.

Re:Quick! (1)

Agent Deepshit (677490) | about 11 years ago | (#6770593)

I don't think the mod got the joke.

Hell, I'm on the fire brigade -- (volunteer)..... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6770547)

I can honestly say that though I've never seen one, I'd be more than willing to spray a thousand gallons of water at say, 300psi through a 1 1/4 nozzel at anyone with a flaming cell phone still being held to their face.

* Although I did once load a woman with a broken jaw into an ambulance after she wrecked a brand new truck while talking on the phone. Guess what, when we got there, she was STILL TALKING. You must have something important to say to talk on a cell in a busted truck with a busted jaw.

Ask Slashdot: (3, Funny)

mfago (514801) | about 11 years ago | (#6770260)

So my cellphone just burst into flames. Does anyone on Slashdot have an idea what I should do?

Re:Ask Slashdot: (5, Funny)

blate (532322) | about 11 years ago | (#6770277)

Dial 911 to report the fire.

Re:Ask Slashdot: (2, Funny)

SparkyTWP (556246) | about 11 years ago | (#6770422)

Bitch that it's somehow SCO's fault

This is Satan... (-1, Funny)

blate (532322) | about 11 years ago | (#6770262)

She must have dialed a 666 number... Or perhaps it was Bill Gates calling. >:-)

Re:This is Satan... (3, Funny)

m_chan (95943) | about 11 years ago | (#6770432)

Nah.. she downloaded a clip from a Madonna song to use as the ringer, and the RIAA is getting REALLY aggressive about protecting their artist's IP.

Re:This is Satan... (2, Funny)

El (94934) | about 11 years ago | (#6770570)

Anybody that uses a Madonna ringtone certainly DESERVES to have their phone burst into flames! Of course, my phone plays Tocatta En Fugue in D Major every time somebody calls, so I probably shouldn't talk...

Re:This is Satan... (1)

Stanley Marlowe (695918) | about 11 years ago | (#6770495)

Or perhaps it was something like this? []

Flaming cellphones? (3, Funny)

Surak (18578) | about 11 years ago | (#6770270)

So...what...are they pink? Do they have pictures of Tinky Winky on them? Or what? :)

Re:Flaming cellphones? (3, Funny)

blackcoot (124938) | about 11 years ago | (#6770332)

totally off topic, but nonethelessL obligatory simpsons quote: "You know me Marge, I like my beer cold, my TV hard, and my homosexuals, flammmmming..." -- Homer Simpson

Re:Flaming cellphones? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6770560)

wow you have a low uid. how much do you want for your account? do you have paypal?

Re:Flaming cellphones? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6770601)

How much you got? ;)

Huzzah! (4, Funny)

VanWEric (700062) | about 11 years ago | (#6770272)

This is only proof that there is a god, and he does not approve of cell-phoning and driving.

So... (3, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 11 years ago | (#6770276)

Are we supposed to welcome the cell phones as our new overlords, or the off-brand batteries?

retribution! (3, Funny)

m.lemur (618095) | about 11 years ago | (#6770278)

was she talking on the cellphone on a bus/train/mass transit system?

if so all I can say is:

"hah hah"

Coverup! (3, Funny)

Un pobre guey (593801) | about 11 years ago | (#6770280)

She is a secret CIA operative receiving a "this phone will self-destruct in 15 seconds" message!

If you work for the CIA, do not take company messages while drinking coffee and browsing CDs at the record store.

Re:Coverup! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6770594)

Don't worry. And I'll also make sure to only post anonymously on /. :)

Other brands of phone - Siemens (5, Informative)

Animaether (411575) | about 11 years ago | (#6770281)

From a Dutch article*

A spokeswoman for Siemens said a GSM (cellphone) of the Siemens brand exploded last year in Germany. It concerned a phone that was placed in a carkit. During recharging, the phone had overheated and exploded. Nobody was injured in that incident. The user of the phone had bought the battery at a fleamarket.

* []

Re:Other brands of phone - Siemens (4, Informative)

mindriot (96208) | about 11 years ago | (#6770463)

Heise has had an article [] on this as well. Translation follows.

Normally, one would only see this kind of stuff happening in rather bad secret agent movies, but now it happened to a woman in Amsterdam: Her cell phone exploded. These news about the exploded mobile phone are likely to disturb many cell phone owners: "Could this happen with my phone too?" In the Netherlands city, the woman's phone had first fallen to the ground. When she turned it on again and held it to her ear, the device exploded and caught fire. The woman suffered minor injuries. Experts, however, see no reason to be concerned: Cell phones explode extremely rarely, according to Bernd Schwencke, head of the cellular phone testing department of the German Quality Testing agency, Stiftung Warentest, in Berlin.

"Up to now, no such case was known to me," Schwencke notes. According to him, what's unusual about this event in the Netherlands is that the phone did not catch fire during recharging as in previously known cases, but while using the phone. In previous cases where the rare case of a mobile phone catching fire occured, forged batteries were spotted as the cause. This was also the cause when a Siemens phone caught fire during recharging in a car kit. The phone manufacturer was not responsible -- the device was equipped with a bogus battery that was not properly working. "The accumulator had no overcharging protection and simply burst like a balloon filled with too much air," says Stefan Muller, spokesperson for the Siemens mobile phone division in Munich. Unfortunately, the plagiarized products mostly originating from Asia are still a problem, according to Muller. To prevent the use of such "time bombs" in cell phones, the experts advise to only buy batteries in specialized stores instead of flea markets -- even if a manufacturer's logo is on the battery.

Liability. (5, Insightful)

EvilFrog (559066) | about 11 years ago | (#6770282)

While the chances of something like this happening are rather unlikely, it's situations like this that are the reasoning for those "we hold no liability for 3rd party components" disclaimers.

Still, if this is happening there's obviously some hazardous defects with the batteries, and any responsible battery manufacturer would issue a recall. I remember that Apple had similar problems with some of the old Powerbook models, and they recalled the defective batteries/computers right away.

Re:Liability. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6770331)

Power supplies, I think. The "Mission Impossible" models.

Re:Liability. (0)

B747SP (179471) | about 11 years ago | (#6770373)

Still, if this is happening there's obviously some hazardous defects with the batteries

Still, if this is happening, you're obviously a karma whore trolling to be modded up with an apparently sympathetic-to-the-cause comment.

Blind Freddie can see that the cellphone manufacturers' marketing departments are putting a FUD-spin on their own manufacturing error, using it as an excuse to scare people into buying their own overpriced accesories.

It's no different to the printer manufacturers' "may damage your printer or give substandard results". The ONLY thing wrong with third party accessories is that the Original Equipment Manufacturer doesn't make a buck out of it.

Re:Liability. (3, Insightful)

timmyf2371 (586051) | about 11 years ago | (#6770413)

Can you please provide some links to the articles which show examples of cellphones bursting into flames which have been using the manufacturer's own batteries?

I'd say that a cellphone bursting into flames is *slightly* more dangerous than a printer cartridge "damaging" a printer, although YMMV.

Re:Liability. (1)

EvanED (569694) | about 11 years ago | (#6770566)

"The ONLY thing wrong with third party accessories is that the Original Equipment Manufacturer doesn't make a buck out of it."

Right, which is why the refilled ink cartriges I used a while ago were as good of quality to the HP ones. The refilled ones didn't have a habit of smearing as they came out, nor did they give a lighter print, nor did the ink in them dry out in the print heads preventing the rest of the ink from being used.

Or why I've heard of replacement batteries causing cell phones to burn up on two separate occasions (and while I didn't read this particular article, another that was on Fark said it's been known to happen before with 3rd party batteries) and with the manufacturer's batteries... uh... never.

3rd party things *can* be just as good as the original, and even incidents like the above shouldn't make manufactuers stop allowing them (like Lexmark...). But face it... very often, the 3rd party stuff just isn't as good as the "real thing." Not all of the price overhead is just scalping; you often get a better product.

Re:Liability. (1)

rco3 (198978) | about 11 years ago | (#6770599)

Or, perhaps, it could be that cheap-assed "bargain" batteries cut corners on the parts of the control circuit which provide temperature feedback to the phone when it's charging... or perhaps there isn't a control circuit at all. Sorta like those cheap laser pointers which don't use current limiting for the laser diode, instead depending on the high series resistance of the little batteries to limit the current. Works most of the time... but how many of those things fail under normal usage, and aren't sent off for repair because a) you can't find the mfg and b) it was only $5 anyway?

NiMH batteries, for example, are actually rather difficult to charge correctly, especially fast charge. And what about those schmucks who put a Li-Ion battery in a case for a phone whose charger only groks NiMH? "Amazing New Li-Ion Technology! Lasts 3X longer! Smaller! Lighter!" You'd buy it at a flea market, because you don't believe that third party parts CAN be inferior. What happens when it finally fails? Hint: there's probably fire involved.

Your assertion that "The ONLY thing wrong with third party accessories is that the Original Equipment Manufacturer doesn't make a buck out of it" is probably wrong in this case, and thus a false statement.

My Cellphone is really. (0, Flamebait)

clifgriffin (676199) | about 11 years ago | (#6770283)

I didn't even realize cellphone batteries did get hot.

My motorola flip phone has never got warm from usse or changing batteries or anything else.

Get a different phone.

Re:My Cellphone is really. (4, Informative)

shepd (155729) | about 11 years ago | (#6770291)

The battery was shorted out.

With NiCad batteries, this means several amps of current through a wire mean to handle perhaps .3 amps.

That means heat.

It doesn't mean the cellphone will spontaneously set on fire. It will only happen if the phone is damaged to the point the battery is shorted.

Re:My Cellphone is really. (3, Informative)

blate (532322) | about 11 years ago | (#6770336)

Or the battery shorts out internally, due to shoddy materials/construction. The phone may be in fine working order, but the battery can still short out.

Re:My Cellphone is really. (1)

myov (177946) | about 11 years ago | (#6770368)

My Mot i60 is always warm during charging, or if I'm having a long conversation.

Serves them right... (3, Funny)

Burpmaster (598437) | about 11 years ago | (#6770288)

I'd like to see THAT happen in class!

Grr (4, Funny)

NanoGator (522640) | about 11 years ago | (#6770289)

Nobody calls me you insensitive clod.

Re:Grr (1)

BrynM (217883) | about 11 years ago | (#6770351)

"Nobody calls me you insensitive clod."
This discussion is about people who are innocently getting hurt and not about your feelings. Stay on topic you insensitive clod!

Re:Grr (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6770454)

You're not funny. Actually, you kinda sound like a fag.

Stupid IP... (5, Funny)

focitrixilous P (690813) | about 11 years ago | (#6770290)

It's the MPAA out for revenge for the bad text messages [] reported recently. Watch out, lest your speakers burst into flame for playing illegal .mp3s. I think giving them the ability to light phones ablaze was too big a concesion for them, as punishment just for badmouthing their IP, but IP is IP, right?

Full power! (5, Informative)

ChilyWily (162187) | about 11 years ago | (#6770300)

So far I haven't found much info on whether this has happened with other brands of phone, though I do know that my little flip-phone gets very hot when running in analog mode. Perhaps some slashdot readers have had a similar experience?
Yup, analog transmits its signals at full power compared to other technologies like CDMA which dynamically adjust their power based on various factors (such as the signal to noise ratio, signal strength, how other cellphones in the same area are transmitting etc). More power for the signal requires a faster rate of discharge which translates into a more rapid chemical reaction that produces the heat in the battery. The issue with non-standard batteries (especially the cheap ones) is that they're not rated for the peak power consumption of the 'brand' phones - thus when the phone demands a surge of power for an extended period this stuff is likely to happen.

So hang up when your phone is a hot potatoe! (2, Funny)

WoTG (610710) | about 11 years ago | (#6770348)

Interesting. So, the smart thing to do is hang up your phone when it gets a lot hotter than usual!

"Sorry, honey, I gotta go. My phone is about to spontaneously combust."

Re:Full power! (4, Informative)

linuxtelephony (141049) | about 11 years ago | (#6770401)

Analog does not always transmit at full power. If memory serves there are 7 power levels that are used and the cell sites can tell the phones to step down their power to one of those 7. It all depends on the quality/level of the signal being received by the site. If it isn't that good, the site says turn up the power. Problem with lots of handhelds is that the antennas are in cars or have other obstables to transmit through thus they are told to transmit at the higher power levels.

Handheld cell phones are limited to somewhere around 0.6 watts. Typically, the newer digital phones (at least from about 3 years ago) would typically have max analog power near 0.5 watts. In digital mode they often can go lower, with CDMA phones transmitting lower still (in theory).

In this case it would appear the phone was dropped. When the phone was turned back on it suddenly ignited. This would seem to indicate a severe short somewhere, and no safety circuit to cut power in case of short, if any such circuits exist on any batteries to begin with.

Typically you hear about two kinds of damage to cell phones. The most common I've heard of is batteries catching fire or exploding during the recharge process. And this is perfectly understandable -- feel a battery while it is getting recharged, they can get pretty warm. Some phone batteries would get so warm while inside the phone on the recharger or plugged into a cig. adapter that they would melt the plastic case of phone itself. I know some "rapid" car cig. adapter chargers from phone vendors have special circuits to control the charging, and the generic cheap adapters don't have the same circuit (if at all).

The other heat related problems I've heard of with cell phones is from extremely long transmissions. Say a handheld phone plugged into a cig adapter and used for 200+ minutes. The transmitter can get pretty warm, and I've heard of some of the smaller/thinner plastic phones (early MicroTAC? don't remember for sure) had plastic melt.

I've never heard of a phone bursting into flames, melting the case, or otherwise get hot when it was not directly related to recharging or extended use. At least not until now.

Something had to be pretty severely damaged or there was no safety cut off circuit somewhere to allow a cold phone to burst into flames like that. Sometimes those bargain batteries and accessories aren't such a bargain after all.

Here's my question. Did she get the battery used in this phone from the same store she got her phone from? I've bought several phones over the years, and the last few years you just about could not find OEM parts, the carrier stores had the cheap stuff there in packaging with their carrier names on it. So, if she bought her phone from a carrier store, and they gave her the battery, then would that carrier assume the liability for this happening, since it was not a Nokia battery involved?

Re:Full power! (2, Interesting)

ChilyWily (162187) | about 11 years ago | (#6770534)

Analog does not always transmit at full power.
hmm...I don't know about that but I'm a bit rusty on my AMPS spec so I'll take your word.
Handheld cell phones are limited to somewhere around 0.6 watts. Typically, the newer digital phones (at least from about 3 years ago) would typically have max analog power near 0.5 watts. In digital mode they often can go lower, with CDMA phones transmitting lower still (in theory).
Precisely! CDMA in particular is capable of so low a transmission power that it can be pretty close to the noise floor. Plus, CDMA phones in proximity to each other don't interfere with each other vs. analog phones drive up the noise quite a bit. That was one of the reasons why the early application of CDMA was in the military - the signal could be hidden pretty effectively within the noise floor. All that translates into both lower battery consumption, plus lower overall power disappation - which for the operators translates into more cellphones per cell site..but I digress...analog power levels are far higher than those for the digital varients - in one of my prior jobs, I used to test (digital) cellular network coverage - I can say from experience that analog power levels were consistently cranked way high. In one instance, a particular part of the city was not able to support CDMA calls but analog calls were going on just fine between a certain time each day. It turned out that there was one of those shuttle vans with a broken CB that was flooding the entire band - only analog was high enough to compete with that interference :)

Fire Marshall Bill (1)

chunkwhite86 (593696) | about 11 years ago | (#6770301)

"Fear not young lovers, I am Fire Marshall Bill Burns and I notice your cell phone is getting a little warm south of the antenna there, son."

Anyone else here remember Jim Carey at the height of his career?

Re:Fire Marshall Bill (1)

Micro$will (592938) | about 11 years ago | (#6770523)

"Let me show ya somethin!"

Fire Marshall Bill pushes send, and the phone begins to glow. "Like any piece of sofffisticated equipment, care must be taken to ensure proper and long lasting operation!" says Bill, as the phone explodes leaving his face and hand blackened and covered in tiny peices of plastic, LCD glass, and a set of number buttons embedded in his left cheek.

It's not a bug, it's a feature (4, Funny)

artemis67 (93453) | about 11 years ago | (#6770305)

Apparently, whoever she was talking to hit the "ignite cellphone" button...

Re:It's not a bug, it's a feature (1)

PzyCrow (560903) | about 11 years ago | (#6770482)

So, eh... could it be done? Could you trigger a bug in the phone electronics disabling overcurrent controll? Then do something to drain a lot of poer fast?
And could you do this via some of the communication protocols availible to phones (sms, mms, ems)?

They aren't kidding.... (5, Interesting)

cmowire (254489) | about 11 years ago | (#6770307)

I worked with some people who were simulating battery-powered electronics. The program had an error message of "Device is on fire". People would call up the tech support for the simulator and ask what the error message means (perhaps they thought it was like Guru Meditation errors or something equally geek-funny). It meant, literally, that the simulated battery is on fire.

The battery controller is in the phone, not the battery, so if it doesn't get the battery it expects to get, there's no limit to the pyromaniac fun that can be had. ;)

Re:They aren't kidding.... (2)

symbolset (646467) | about 11 years ago | (#6770471)

These batteries for these phones are chipped. Wrong chip and the phone discharges the battery, allegedly to protect the user from "substandard offbrand batteries." Thus, you have to buy approved batteries, or the phone catches fire.

Since the phone is designed this way, the burn victim should be able to recover damages from a manufacturer that designed a phone to explode when the phone does not approve of the battery.

Inspired by the Simpson's (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6770309)

I like my beer cold, my TV loud, and my cellphones flaming .

False alarm! (2, Funny)

NanoGator (522640) | about 11 years ago | (#6770310)

Relax folks. It was just Chief Quimby delivering an assignment to the Inspector.

she didnt heard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6770325)

"this message will self destruct in 3...2...1...grrrr"

think I'll have another glass of Mexican Wine... (1)

normalperson (552607) | about 11 years ago | (#6770334)

Suddenly the opening line to one of my favorite songs [] doesn't seem so far fetched.

This brings a whole new meaning (5, Funny)

KiwiEngineer (585036) | about 11 years ago | (#6770335)

This brings a whole new level to the concept of starting a flame war or having a heated discussion on the phone.

It also opens up the potential for cellphones to be sold as firestarters for campers outside of the transmission range, a wholly untapped market.

nokia falls for urban legends (4, Interesting)

TerraFrost (611855) | about 11 years ago | (#6770341)

cellphones causing fires at the gas pumps may be an urban legend (if you click on the Helpful Links page of the TechTV, you can even read the entry for it), but the user guide for the Nokia 3520 phone sure wouldn't have you believing that...

to quote from page 12...

Don't use the phone at a refueling point. Don't use near fuel or chemicals.

here's a pdf of the user guide: 3520.pdf []

Re:nokia falls for urban legends (4, Funny)

nordicfrost (118437) | about 11 years ago | (#6770426)

But on the other side, what kind of consumer goods aiming for the American market todday has any sensible warning labels?

Glock gun: Point away from face. (Aaahhh. So THAT'S what I've been doing wrong)

Lithium Ion batteries and overcurrent protection (5, Informative)

freshfromthevat (135461) | about 11 years ago | (#6770343)

Many LiOn batteries include built in gas gauging and over current protection. This costs about $1 in parts. Dallas makes some of the gas gauging parts -- DS2438 for instance. The gas gauging component is connected to the telephone via a 1 wire + ground interface. The overcurrent protection circuit is entirely internal. If the clone vendor wanted to save several nickels they could leave out the overcurrent chip and nobody would be the wiser until the battery shorts out.
The reason the overcurrent protection is built in is because Lithium Ion batteries will reach the flash temperature of plastic if current is drawn from them too fast.
So... don't rip the plastic off the pack and short them out except by remote control.

My story with NiCads and NiMH on my cellphone (5, Funny)

wackybrit (321117) | about 11 years ago | (#6770346)

Perhaps some slashdot readers have had a similar experience?

Count me in.

Back in the late Eighties, I bought one of those 'brick' phones. Of course, as was the style at the time they weren't called that, because they just happened to be that size, nothing special.

As was the style at the time, the phones used ridiculous NiCad batteries for portability -- when you were in the car, they ran off of a device hooked up to the car battery, so you didn't need to wear the batteries out. Unfortunately the NiCad batteries were crap. As you probably already know, NiCad batteries have this really horrible 'memory' effect where if you recharge the battery before it's completely empty, it thinks that where you've just started to recharge it from is the *real* empty.. and it's not.

I could also only get thirty minutes' talk time out of a full charge, although it'd stay on standby on one charge for about three hours. Considering it took 12 hours to charge the NiCad (overnight charger), this wasn't a great arrangement if you wanted to use the phone while out and about during the daytime.

At the time, NiMH's weren't available for cell phones, in fact hardly anyone used them at all for anything really. But they delivered better battery life (for the time), didn't have the horrible memory effect, and charged more quickly than the NiCads charged.

So what I did was buy a second battery from Motorola for the princely sum of $95 (!!! and this was in the Eighties!!), I gutted it, and replaced all of the NiCad cells (yes, those big batteries are just collections of batteries all hooked together - it's not just one giant pool of acid in there..) with approximately 25 regular AA sized NiMH batteries that I bought at some store in a town. And, yes, I made sure the voltages all added up and that the current supply somewhat matched up. So I threw the casing back on the battery, hooked it up, and the phone worked! Talk-time was up to about ninety minutes, standby time was up to SIX hours (!! - I know, this sounds pretty ridiculous by today's standards, but there you go). I was walking on air.

A week later, I was walking along, cellphone in its case (they were big, so you carried them in things kinda like camera cases - you know, those big Nikon camera bags, that you can get a few lenses in).. phone was on standby,and suddenly BANG, the side casing of the battery ploughed a hole through the bag and fell onto the floor and suddenly all this goop (the battery acid) was running out. I dropped it immediately and battery acid was pouring out everyplace.

That was some dangerous stuff.

Re:My story with NiCads and NiMH on my cellphone (1)

soft_guy (534437) | about 11 years ago | (#6770450)

Then what happened?

Above post by Grandpa Simpson (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6770474)

We can't bust heads like we used to, but we have our ways. One trick is to tell them stories that don't go anywhere. Like the time I caught the ferry over to Shelbyville. I needed a new heel for my shoe. So, I decided to go to Morganville, which is what they called Shelbyville in those days. So I tied an onion to my belt, which was the style at the time. Now, to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days nickels had pictures of bumblebees on them. 'Give me five bees for a quarter', you'd say. Now, where were we? Oh, yeah...the important thing was that I had an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time. They didn't have white onions because of the war; the only thing you could get was those big yellow ones.

Re:My story with NiCads and NiMH on my cellphone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6770501)

We can't crack heads like we used to, but one way it to tell them stories that don't go anywhere.

Back in the late Eighties.... yada yada
As was the style at the time... yada
I could also only get thirty minutes' talk time out of a full charge...
At the time, NiMH's weren't available for cell phones... aha
what I did was buy a second battery from Motorola for the princely sum of $95 (!!! and this was in the Eighties!!)...
cellphone in its case (they were big, so you carried them in things kinda like camera cases

Hey how ya doing Grandpa Simpson

Re:My story with NiCads and NiMH on my cellphone (2, Insightful)

brakk (93385) | about 11 years ago | (#6770579)

...I bought at some store in a town.


Re:My story with NiCads and NiMH on my cellphone (3, Funny)

fuzzix (700457) | about 11 years ago | (#6770595)

"NiCad batteries have this really horrible 'memory' effect where if you recharge the battery before it's completely empty, it thinks that where you've just started to recharge it from is the *real* empty"

Whoah... It thinks? This is a major developemnt - I must return to my battery lab!

Surprised? (1)

heli0 (659560) | about 11 years ago | (#6770354)

" We later heard she had used a replacement battery"

I guess that when you buy cheap crap from the Ukraine you get burned, literally.

Flaming phones don't interest me (3, Funny)

karmavore (618727) | about 11 years ago | (#6770372)

I like burning the phone bills.

Lexmark like DMCA enforcement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6770375)

This happened because she used a battery that was not compatible nor sanctioned by Nokia.

FUD vs. replacement parts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6770376)

How is this not an obvious barrell of BS?
What next, is HP going to claim that replacement inkjet cartridges contain asbestos?

Batteries can overheat and burst if handled incorrectly or if struck by lightning. Nokia is just diverting attention to their own peeve, and spreading FUD in order to make large profits on replacement batteries.

I would pay to see that... (5, Funny)

Kirsha (201264) | about 11 years ago | (#6770377) the movie theather. Asshole who doesnt turn off his cellphone, gets a call, answers it and BOOM, the fireworks illuminate the room. Yes, entertainment at its finest!

Re:I would pay to see that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6770494)

the production company or RIAA would love to have an example on videotape of that.

Sounds suspiciously like FUD to me . . . (4, Interesting)

mjprobst (95305) | about 11 years ago | (#6770381)

Oh, so this information just came from _somewhere_ and the replacement battery was from a _flea market_?

I could see this being true, but I could just as easily see it as a story planted by the phone manufacturer for one of two purposes:

  • To keep selling official batteries at higher markup
  • To hide the fact that there's some kind of heat management flaw in the company's product

Re:Sounds suspiciously like FUD to me . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6770535)

If she was using the _OFFICIAL_ battery she would have sued them for _ONE_BILLION_DOLLARS._

LiIon can easily thermal-runaway (4, Informative)

SuperBanana (662181) | about 11 years ago | (#6770386)

For various reasons, these batteries may overheat and catch fire, or even explode!

Lithium Ion batteries will do this very readily when drained or charged too fast...or if overheated past a certain point under what would otherwise be normal current draw...and it's one of the reasons, for example, Panasonic won't sell me the cells I need to fix my Powerbook G3 Lombard's battery(almost all laptop+camcorder batteries, save the newest, are simply AA-sized LiIon cells in various series+parallel configurations).

Panasonic won't sell to anyone except a 'certified systems designer' who has signed agreements saying they'll design proper charging and current/temperature limiting circuitry. God forbid you should simply want to fix a battery pack which is no longer made. I suspect they do it mostly to keep battery pack repair impossible and force everyone to simply run right out and drop $50(cell phones) to $300(some laptop batteries). Sound conspiracy-theory ripe? :-)

LiIon is actually a pretty crappy technology, at least as far as consumers are concerned. Nobody told consumers that for the extra talk minutes they got, their battery will be damn near worthless in a few months if they use their phone a lot...because LiIon looses a staggering amount of its capacity with every charge/discharge cycle- and the deeper the discharge, the more capacity is lost with each cycle. NiMH batteries don't have this problem. Funny thing, eh?

Even worse, the batteries never get recycled(you think the consumer drives to the town dump and puts the battery in the battery recyling box? Nooooooo), they simply get chucked. There are some really nasty chemicals in LiIon batteries(like just about any battery technology today.)

By the way, speaking of batteries and the environment, a lot of people have trouble with car batteries and simply buy new ones instead of taking care of their car battery better(granted, car batteries are usually recycled better, because it's easier, and there's a lot of material, but still...) This site covers just about anything you ever wanted to know about lead-acid batteries and how to properly care for them:

Theaters? (1)

Lord_Dweomer (648696) | about 11 years ago | (#6770390)

Now if they could just make a device to do this remotely and install it in every theater in America we'd be set.

Be Nice! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6770392)

Come now, isn't it a little insensitive to have a huge discussion on the sexual orientation of cellphones. I mean, I didn't even realize that's what they meant by phone sex!

Really??? (2, Insightful)

Mechamse (515842) | about 11 years ago | (#6770395)

Cheap battery + Expensive Cell phone = little boom!
Nice. Just goes to show you that price doesn't always mean you should buy it...

I can see it now...
Woman sues battery maker for causing personal injury due to defective device. Company not able to pay the settlement, and so gives user a free lifetime supply of (fixed) product...
Such a dilemma... To use it or not to use it...

Batteries are dangerous if used improperly (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6770397)

I've read about a real case two or three years ago; a woman bought a used cell phone ; the battery was no-brand, and the charger was also not the original one for that model of phone... The battery exploded while recharging. The woman suffered considerable burns - not really severe but enough to leave a few scars.

It's actually a little bit surprising that it *doesn't* happen more frequently, partly thanks to improving manufacturing techniques. Note that all battery manufacturers use to label batteries about this particular risk, and ask the customer to take care not to recharge batteries with improper equipment. After all batteries are storing anergy, and guess what? It can be released in a nice explosion...

This problem is one of the risks that electric car manufacturers have to solve; not that fuel-based cars are any safer, but there is much that we are still learning about batteries. We'll probably hear about a few accidents over the next years as electric cars become more common. The explosions in this case - if they ever happen -will be far more dangerous, because car batteries are considerably bigger than cell phone ones...

and in related news ... (4, Funny)

cr@ckwhore (165454) | about 11 years ago | (#6770403)

Excerpt from a related story ...

"John Smith, 45, received minor burns to his hands Thursday evening when his computer suddenly burst into flames. Operating system vendor Microsoft provided a statement, indicating that the cause of the small fire was due to the use of Star Office, a 'non-microsoft brand' product."

Short.. (1)

neilsly (106751) | about 11 years ago | (#6770405)

yeap.. it was definately a short in the battery. Back when I was working in the wireless industry I actually saw the plastic on the back of some guys 5120 start to discolor and sort of melt.

why doesnt this happen... (5, Funny)

resignator (670173) | about 11 years ago | (#6770408)

to the cellphone of that guy that goes around asking,"can you hear me now?" If only life were so sweet.

Exploding Cell Phones... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6770409)

Sounds like a good office prank. :)

Nokia says... (0)

PSaltyDS (467134) | about 11 years ago | (#6770412)

...that if you don't buy "Genuine Quality Nokia Batteries", your phone will burst into flames!!! Come'on people, don't we see a little self-serving FUD here? Doesn't Lexmark claim that off-brand ink catridges will make your printer burst into flames?

BATTERY ERROR! Non-Nokia battery detected! This phone will self-destruct in 10 seconds...9, 8...

Re:Nokia says... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6770470)

Nokia is not much lying about this, it happened a couple of times in Europe.

Norway, November 2002 (3310 exploded in classroom)
Belgium, January 2003 (3310 exploded at home)

No injuries in both cases.

Throw in a RFID tag on the battery... (1)

GrnArmadillo (697378) | about 11 years ago | (#6770414)

And you could potentially call someone on the phone and then detonate it when they answer. Orwell never had it this easy.....

public service announcement (1)

Corporal Tunnel (642897) | about 11 years ago | (#6770418)

People should really wait a while after huffing gas before they use their cell phones.

Well (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6770423)

For this very reason, I modded my phone. Phew...

Ok, here is my rig (Phone):

I got a small vantec Geforce2 chip fan, and drilled (dremel) a hole on the back of my phone (Sanyo 4900) behind the PCB. The fan was at first glued by superglue, but since this didn't work when temperate went high, I then used a length of duck tape to permantaly bind the fan to the phone.

But this caused some problems, namly they tape went around the phone, thus the keys were all stuck behind the phone. Thus, I spent an afternoon using a surgical (dont try this at home kids) scalpel to cut out the phone keys from the tape. It worked.

Now the temp problem was solved, but this fan is loud as hell, I think my next cooling mod would include heat pipes.

The other mods I've done on my phone (apart from turning the faint red led to bright blue red that shouldnt be shined into eyes ... )...

Well, my phone is now pimped up in a coat of UV paint, thus if I take it to a club, it's the most attractive thing to chicks who just cant take their hands off my

lithium battery fires (1)

spamchang (302052) | about 11 years ago | (#6770442)

this was a concern during the solar car rayce this summer. apparently stanford's battery pack had some problems with its battery protection circuits, and there was a fire in the car at some point. bags of ice were later used to keep things cool across arizona. this sounds untenable for cell phones however.

If this really happened, was it an accident? (1)

The Time Keeper (698762) | about 11 years ago | (#6770445)

This (from the article):

"In all cases it was caused by a replacement battery which was not a Nokia accessory. The manufacturers violated security requirements which should prevent it from heating up after short circuiting, for instance, after it was dropped."

reminds me of stuff like this( from

'According to Netscape, the problem rests not with Communicator but instead with IIS. "What we found is that during the step up handshake IIS violates the SSL [Secure Socket Layer] 3 specification for performing this operation," explained Chris Nalls, senior product manager for client outbound marketing at Netscape. "It sends a request to communicate that's too short, which causes Communicator to crash." '

Was this truly an accident? Or, is Nokia intentionally "short circuiting" the battery for some reason?

Netscape (0, Offtopic)

El (94934) | about 11 years ago | (#6770591)

If you crash due to receiving a malformed packet, it's still a serious bug in your software! It doesn't matter whether the packet was intentionally malicious or not. (And yes, I've crashed NT servers by sending them malformed SMB requests.) The cardinal rule in designing packet parsing routines is to assume the sender is malicious and has access to your source!

Gas stations and lithium ... (4, Insightful)

Magus311X (5823) | about 11 years ago | (#6770449)

First, I saw the "electrostatic discharge" labels at the Mobil pumps today. They've been there a while. For good reason. They wouldn't alter old warning labels and stick them on every pump if there wasn't a reason. Business don't like spending money.

Gasoline ends in "ne" and have that "eeen" pronunciation to them. Xylene. Benzene. Toluene. All come from crude oil and all have a bloody low flash point.

Second, lithium batteries have the highest energy to weight ratio, and yes, folks are still careless with them. Most batteries I believe even have a little resistor in them to moderate the output. Lithium is nasty nasty stuff. I don't suppose anyone here remembers when Kodak started pumping out some of the first lithium cells? Guess how they stored them in the warehouse? On METAL shelves! The battery contacts shorted against the metal shelves and you can guess what happened.

Nasty thing about lithium batts is when they do burn. You essentially need Lithex to put the fire out. Granted you get a warning when something's up. There are sulfur in the batteries as well (a few other things, the mixture is part organic), so you can smell the typical rotten egg smell when the batteries are outgassing. When you smell that -- toss them and RUN. Defense contractors and places working with these things often have bomb blankets and ammo cases around for these suckers for a reason.

Point? Both of these are dangerous substances, and I wouldn't want to be near them when they start burning together!


Answer to your question (2, Funny)

ehiris (214677) | about 11 years ago | (#6770479)

"...cellphone burst into flame...Perhaps some slashdot readers have had a similar experience?"

Please refer this kind of questions to Darwin Awards []

what about regular batteries (1)

Coneasfast (690509) | about 11 years ago | (#6770485)

This makes me wonder, i recently bought a pack of 20 AA batteries by a small unknown company (can be misleading since the package looks and the name sounds like it is duracell) at a dollar store (yes!!! 20 AA batteries for $1 CDN) ... seems to work fine in my remote control, but im a little worried now

Just maybe (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6770491)

if cellphone manufacturers didnt gouge and rip us off for batteries people wouldnt buy 3rd party and this wouldnt happen.

usually its cheaper to throw away the phone than replace batteries at their prices

what next ? printer carts that explode ?

Verizon?? (1)

ewhenn (647989) | about 11 years ago | (#6770492)

Can you EAR me now?


heh (3, Funny)

nyet (19118) | about 11 years ago | (#6770506)

Stop, drop, and rollover minutes

Cell Phones, a new weapon of terror (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6770536)

Alot of these posts are pointing at Lithium Ion and showing ways it can "reach the flash point of plastic if current discharged too fast".

Does this mean that any lithium ion devices (such as the Tungsten W I just bought) should be banned from airplanes?

And does the fact that I'm arab, and in fact palestinian, and in possession of a Tungsten W, immediatly make me a threat to national security?

Interesting... I think I'll go back to paper cups and string :)

Yes it's only an uban legend... (1)

Mashiki (184564) | about 11 years ago | (#6770552)

Until you see it happen right?

Just like filling up gas containers on the plastic liners of a pickup truck right? *cough* static*cough*

I've never seen an explosion caused by a cellphone but I've seen vapor ignition caused by a cellphone. Ofcourse in favor of people and their cell phones, it did have a small electrical short in the phone.

And for those craving more information it wasn't at a gas station, but at a factory plant where everyone carries one of the phone type jobs, some yahoo was filling a machine inside, instead of outside; build up of vapor and poof a rather pretty little lightshow for us all.

Thanks a lot! (2, Funny)

El (94934) | about 11 years ago | (#6770556)

Start pointing out that cell phones can easily be made into incendiary devices by shorting out the batteries, and they'll start confiscating them at airport security gates and throwing into the same basket as the fingernail clippers and knitting needles.

"Stop that man!!! He's got a CELL PHONE hidden in his shoe!!!"

Yeah, but were they at a gas station? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6770563)


You get what you pay for. (1)

Zebra_X (13249) | about 11 years ago | (#6770604)

That's all I have to say about that.
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