Science and Tech


Teen's Phone Ignites Under Her Pillow; How Real Is The Risk?

A Texas teen's Samsung phone apparently ignited while she slept, but what was the real problem here?
Posted at 12:53 PM, Jul 28, 2014

Plenty of people tend to fall asleep with their phones in their beds at night, but one 13-year-old's tale is cautionary, to say the least. KDFW has the story of the Texas teen.

"The plastic, the glass, you can't even really tell it was a phone."

"This is what's left of Ariel's phone. She says it slipped under her pillow as she fell asleep. The smell of something burning woke her in the night."

Definitely a scary situation that could have been much worse. Ariel Tolfree had a Samsung Galaxy S4. Her dad told KDFW he thinks the phone overheated and the battery swelled while she slept. 

Now, the battery was not original to the phone; it was a replacement. And Samsung's manual does contain a warning:

"Use of a non-Samsung-approved battery or charger may present a risk of fire, explosion, leakage, or other hazard." 

A piece on phone safety from Digital Trends emphasizes that third-party batteries are dangerous — they aren't necessarily compatible with your phone.

But even with the approved company battery, phones can be dangerous.

A quick Internet search reveals several stories of Samsung phones catching fire this year alone. (Via The Huffington Post, Emirates 24/7, Business Insider)

Samsung's not the only one — there are headlines about iPhones igniting, too. (Via Apple Insider)

Now sometimes, there's user — well, we'll call it error. According to International Business Times, one man who said his Samsung Galaxy exploded later revealed he'd previously microwaved the phone.

And sleeping with phones poses a very real potential danger —  Apple's manual even says, "Don’t sleep or place a device or power adapter under a blanket, pillow, or your body when it's plugged into a power source."

Of course, just like we often sleep with our phones, we often don't read user manuals. Be safe with your phones, but Digital Trends also reminds us:

"You're far more likely to be struck by lightning, give birth to quadruplets, or be an Olympic medal winner than get hurt from your phone."