Bloated battery – survival guide

Have you ever seen a bloated battery? We have. Many times. As we specialise in iPhone repairs, we have only had the chance to see iPhone bloated batteries, but this fault can happen to any other rechargeable battery, on any other device.

The first time we saw a bloated battery was about two years ago. We wrote an article about this, ‘The amazing bloated battery’, and below you can see what a bloated battery on an iPhone 3GS looks like.

 Bloated battery   survival guide

However, after all this time, it seems that not many people are aware of this issue. They come to our workshop with an almost dead phone, sometimes a damaged LCD and the case slightly lifting from the phone (or a broken plastic case on the iPhone 3G/3GS). Sometimes it is very easy to figure out that a bloated battery is the source of the problems, even without opening the phone. But they are not aware of this. And when we open the phone and reveal the bloated battery, they are in shock.

The question that automatically follows their reaction is, ‘Why has this happen?!”

Why does a battery swell inside a device?

Seeing our customer confusion when faced with a bloated battery, I tried to find out why this happens. It seems that there are three main causes:

Overcharging – this seems to be the main cause for swollen and bloated batteries. You shouldn’t leave your phone on its charger for long periods of time after the battery is charged. It is recommended that you use an original charger and, whenever possible, avoid using the phone while it’s charging.

Another thing that can affect the battery is overusing the phone. Talking for hours on the phone and playing games for a long time may cause damage to the battery.

Extreme temperatures – low or too high temperatures can have a negative effect upon your phone’s battery. It seems that if you consistently expose your phone to extreme temperatures (especially high temperatures), the lithium-ion mixture can sometimes rupture the cell, which will cause the battery to appear bloated.

Faulty manufacturing – sometimes the problem is linked with the manufacturing process and it has nothing to do with your actions

I stumbled a few days ago upon a similar article on TUAW: ‘iPhone 3GS battery swells to absurd size’

Indeed, the 3G/3GS models seem to be more prone to develop this problem. Recently, we’ve also seen bloated batteries on the iPhone 4 and 4s. What we have seen (and you are able to see in the pictures below), isn’t quite as bad as we experienced with the iPhone 3G bloated battery, but I suppose it can be worse.

 Bloated battery   survival guide

How can a bloated battery affect your device

If you’re lucky, you’ll only get a damaged battery and in some situations, a broken back case. But in some other situations, if the battery is badly bloated, the swelling will put pressure on the logic board and the screen, and can damage many other components inside your phone.

If it’s just the screen or LCD that have been damaged, these can be easily replaced, but the worst is when the logic board has been damaged. In this situation, there is not much that can be done.

The solution

As soon as you notice an issue with the battery and the phone itself, go and have it checked. If the battery has become bloated, you need to replace it with a new one as soon as possible. There might be other components that need to be replaced, and here at Lovefone, we specialise in hardware repairs so we should be able to help.
However, if the logic board has been affected, the best thing might be to take the iPhone to the Apple store and check out the solutions they offer.

I wrote this article in order to make people aware of this issue, but I hope that you’ll never have this problem with the battery of your iPhone!

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February 16, 2014