Buying a new battery for a device can be a frustratingly opaque experience. It’s effectively impossible to tell whether more expensive batteries are actually better batteries. Capacity and even chemistry claims are just words printed on packaging, not something the buyer can evaluate prior to purchase. It’s why some people stick to batteries bought directly from the manufacturer, even though they’re inevitably much more expensive. And if the problem is bad here, I can only imagine it’s worse in China, where product counterfeiting runs rampant.
But with all of that said, please don’t bite an iPhone battery (or any battery) as a way of confirming it’s genuine. According to the Taiwan News, the video below was the result of a customer in need of a new iPhone battery biting it to see if it’s genuine.
Taiwan News reports one Chinese netizen chided the man, saying: “The battery is not gold, why are you biting it?” This is a very good question that almost certainly lacks a satisfactory response. The video appears to be real and neither individual was injured when the battery ignited — hopefully the bright flash visible above serves as a light bulb moment for the man in question.
One popular misconception is that lithium-ion batteries explode when punctured because the lithium inside them has been exposed to air. This is true of lithium-metal batteries, but lithium-ion batteries don’t contain enough lithium to have this problem. (This is why lithium-ion battery fires can be put out with water, while lithium-metal battery fires can’t.)
Instead, lithium-ion batteries explode when punctured because the separator between the anode and the cathode is breached. This separator layer is vital to the function of the battery. Once it’s damaged, the battery immediately short-circuits, with the results seen above. Biting a battery can’t establish whether it’s counterfeit, any more than licking a CPU can tell you if it’s been deliberately mislabeled.
We live in uncertain times. North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, concerns over Russia, Europe’s refugee crisis, and ongoing civil wars raging in places like Syria and Yemen aren’t just US concerns, they’re global concerns as well. It’s understandable people would be looking for ways to cope. But please remember, neither lithium-ion batteries nor Tide Pods are on the approved list of foods for human consumption published by anyone, anywhere. Eat a donut. Have a salad. Enjoy a steak. By all means, drop your lithium-ion batteries off at a recycling drive or dispose of them properly. Just don’t try verifying them with your teeth.
Feature image from iFixit’s teardown of the iPhone X
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