It seems that the mobile phones are not subjected to stringent stress tests under extreme environmental conditions. Counterfeit batteries and phones are other possible reasons. More regulation is needed, particularly in third world countries, to ensure public safety from such incidents.
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OK, time for a wikipedia moment. Energy density of a Li ion battery is about 0.5MJ/kg. Thermite is 4 MJ/kg, Nitroglycerin is 6.38MJ/kg. So it appears as though under "ideal" conditions, a battery could cause some damage (not surprising). Figuring out what set of events would be required for such an even is not easy...
Details may be hard to come by because I smell lawsuit...
Over the years there have been reports of injuries due to exploding cell phone batteries, and some deaths that were originally blamed on such explosions turned out to be due to other causes.
In some cases, the root cause has been the use of counterfeit batteries, which is one reason battery management ICs now include battery authentication features.
We will need to wait for more details about this particular incident before any real conclusions can be drawn.
Well, this has to be a first. I would say, this is the first time we have heard of a mobile/cell phone explosion causing injuries severe enough to lead to death. Can someone recall a previous of incident of mortal injuries anywhere in the world due to a cell/mobile phone blast in the last 30 years or so?
The amount of energy stored in a phone battery is large enough to cause quite a powerful explosion. Therefore, the possibility of mortal injuries to the individual remained theoretically open all the while. The specific trigger which caused the explosion is something that would have to be given technical investigation.
May be someone can lay down the technicalities of a trigger? Or may be a failure analysis supported with numbers?