With battery life/capacity being undeniably identified the top “must have” from customers, LG has upped the battery capacity of the LG G6 by ~18% (3300 mAh) from the LG G5 (2800 mAh). Not surprisingly packing such battery density may trigger questions about how safe this is, especially after the multi-billion dollars recall & termination of the Galaxy Note 7 due to faulty batteries. Since LG produces its batteries, it was eager to show the world that tests were more than serious. They are sometimes extreme.
Ubergizmo was part of a US media group that visited the LG Pyeongtaek facility (aka LG Digital Park) in Korea where battery testing happens. LG manufactures its own batteries and has test facilities that will use a range of techniques to make sure that battery design and manufacturing (two very distinct things) are safe.
How does LG define “safe” for batteries? It’s simple: under no circumstances they should explode, burn and harm customers. I may sound obvious, but in reality, batteries are not unlike little bombs packed with (chemical) energy. And it is extremely difficult to make them safe.
"UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES THEY SHOULD EXPLODE, BURN AND HARM CUSTOMERS"Fundamentally, every battery functions with three elements: anode (-), cathode (+) and electrolyte. The electrons are trying to go from the Anode (-) to the Cathode (+), but are prevented from doing so by the electrolyte. When a controlled contact is made between the two, electron flows and there’s electricity.
If for some reason, the + and – enter an uncontrolled contact, it creates a short circuit and the energy is released in an uncontrolled way, which can lead to fire or explosions. Phone batteries are extremely dense and separating the (+) and (-) is a very delicate process because although you want the separation to be 100% tight, you also want the battery to be small…
Also, batteries can be physically damaged by shocks, punctures and other unforeseen events that could trigger a battery failure, and uncontrolled reaction.
There are several international UL standards that batteries have to go through. However, these standards don’t always cover extreme cases such as battery puncture or battery thrown into a fire. Usually, it’s assumed to be somewhat normal that things would go very wrong, if these
LG’s lab does test for these events (fire + puncture) and LG’s standard for battery is that even when they happen, the battery should not explode or catch fire. The (fully charged) battery puncture test was impressive, and it’s not clear how LG manages to avoid a short-circuit when a nail is driven through the battery… We asked, but the lab manager said that he could not reveal more than what we’ve seen because this was a proprietary technique.
Now OBVIOUSLY, one should never bend, puncture or throw a battery in a fire, even if it has supposedly passed the design and manufacturing tests. The general point is that all of this should reduce the likelihood of a grave battery incident and therefore make the handset more reliable and safe.