Fake batteries causing cell phone explosions
October 14, 2003
Cell phone maker Nokia has issued a warning that a growing number
of its mobile phones are being damaged by badly made or counterfeit
batteries from other companies.
The number of phones destroyed by so-called third-party batteries,
sold by street venders or on the Web, have risen enough since late
last year to prompt a warning from Nokia, said company spokesman
The Finnish phone giant said that a young Vietnamese woman was hospitalized
with burns after her mobile phone apparently exploded. Contraband
and counterfeit mobile phone batteries are widely available in Vietnam
in local markets for about $2 to $3 apiece, compared with $20 for
a genuine product, a local Nokia representative said. This incident
follows two similar accidents that have occurred in the Netherlands
In the latest Dutch incident, a supermarket employee burned his
legs when a Nokia cell phone exploded in his pants pocket. In August,
a 33-year-old Dutch woman was injured when her Nokia phone exploded
in her hands.
According to a company spokesman, Nokia has learned that all three
users installed counterfeit batteries manufactured by unauthorized
Nokia has cited faulty batteries from independent electronics manufacturers
for similar incidents in the past. The company has said these manufacturers
violated security requirements that should prevent the battery heating
up after short-circuiting, for example, after the phone is dropped.
Reports about exploding phones could add to the general unrest among
some cell phone owners about the safety of the devices. Some scientists
are debating whether radiation from certain models might cause cancer.
Original cell phone batteries are available
for between $24.95 and $74.95 through Nokia's U.S. e-commerce site,
but many companies or individuals sell illegally manufactured batteries
that are much cheaper than original batteries. Those batteries aren't
subject to the same quality control and testing that Nokia batteries
undergo said a company spokesman.
Nokia batteries, should be marked clearly
to reflect Nokia branding and compliance with local safety standards.