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What to do if your phone battery is swollen

Make sure your phone is working, and safe!
By
October 10, 2022
Removable battery clorseup
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

As amazing as modern smartphone technology is getting, batteries still rely on chemical reactions. This means these units are prone to some issues, one being battery swelling. It’s not a common issue for most, but the topic pops up from time to time. Apple, Samsung, and even Google devices have had problems with this in the past. It’s not only an annoyance, but a swollen phone battery can get dangerous. This is why today we’re showing you what to do if your phone battery is swollen.

Also read: Why is my battery charging so slowly? 

What causes a swollen phone battery?

Galaxy iPhone and Pixel smartphones with selection of chargers 2
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

There are multiple reasons why a lithium-ion battery may swell. There is usually one underlying cause for this to happen, though. Batteries usually swell because of gas building up, creating pressure and expanding them.

With that in mind, we must consider the more common causes for a battery to store gas. Manufacturer defects can happen. If the battery maker doesn’t make the battery correctly, gas can slowly build up during the charging process. This essentially means simply charging your phone enough times could be an issue, especially considering juicing up your phone also creates heat.

Heat commonly speeds the process up, too, so you should probably make sure not to leave a phone in the sun too much, or next to very hot items.

Additionally, physical damage to the battery can be a very common cause of battery swelling. Have you ever dropped your phone? Maybe you accidentally punctured the battery? This could be why your battery is swelling. Not to mention batteries get old, too. Chemical reactions can change, and parts weaken.

By the way, this shouldn’t be a common occurrence. Unless there’s a severe manufacturer defect, most batteries should last the couple or few years for which most users keep a device.

How to know if your phone battery is swollen

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It’s much harder to tell if your battery is swelling these days, as handsets with removable batteries are becoming very scarce. We never really see our batteries anymore. This makes it harder to identify a swollen or damaged battery.

The easiest way to tell if a battery is swollen is by inspecting the device (or battery, if you can). Are there any bumps? You may notice an unusual wobble when you lay it on a flat surface. Also, look for warped shapes or signs of the phone disassembling itself. Smartphone backplates start to come off as the battery’s swollen shape puts pressure against them.

While not as safe, the smell can also be a sign of a swollen battery. We wouldn’t advise that you actively try to smell chemicals, but this is something you may have accidentally noticed already. Does your phone smell odd? People describe a bad battery smell as metallic, and sometimes even sweet.

What to do if your phone battery is swollen

Moto G Power 2021 back of phone in hand
David Imel / Android Authority

So you’ve found something odd with your smartphone’s battery. Is it safe to use a swollen phone battery? Definitely not! A swollen lithium-ion battery can be very dangerous. The pressure can make gases escape, and the battery can even catch fire or explode, especially if pierced.

Your first step should be to turn off the device immediately and keep it off. Don’t plug it in or mess with it, either. Leave it in a safe place and keep it there, preferably away from anything that can burn.

If it’s possible, and safe to do so, you should probably remove the battery. Just be careful not to mess with it too much in the process, and try to avoid smelling any fumes it may give off. We actually recommend taking the phone to a professional instead. Technicians will have the necessary knowledge and tools to do this easily. They can also find a suitable replacement for you. This will likely incur some charges and require replacement purchases, though.

If your phone is still under warranty or insurance, your best bet is to go with the carrier, retailer, or company handling the coverage.

How to dispose of a swollen phone battery

E Waste Recycle 2
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

If you remove the battery yourself, you should get rid of it safely. You shouldn’t just dump it in the trash. A swollen phone battery is a fire hazard, and no one wants that at home.

If and when it’s safe, you should take your smartphone battery to an authorized battery collection center or a recycling location. You can find your nearest one at call2recycle.org. You can actually ship them, but we wouldn’t recommend that either. Shipping usually entails a lot of movement, banging around, and packages being around plenty of flammable materials.


Next: These are the phones with the best battery life

FAQs

Swollen batteries are very unsafe to keep using. These can release dangerous fumes, catch on fire, or even explode.

Swollen batteries are a fire hazard. They are dangerous to throw in the trash and young should take them to a recycling center or battery collection location.

The best way to tell if a battery is swollen is by looking for physical manifestations. Look for any areas of the phone morphing, or coming apart. See if there are any bumps around, or if buttons are harder to press.

Batteries should operate efficiently for about two to three years.