Knockoff cell phone batteries prone to catch fire or explode, senator warns

By Shawn Knight
Jun 24, 2013
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  1. If you’re in the market for a new cell phone battery and are interested in saving a few bucks by going with a counterfeit or knockoff replacement, you might want to think twice. That’s because poorly made handset batteries are...

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  2. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 2,011   +683

    Hmm... a politician telling us of something new we should be afraid of. Politicians love this stuff. He gets to look like he's standing up for us against some big enemy, in this case the Chinese. I wonder what the agenda is here... import regulations or simply a feather in the cap for 'protecting Americans'. I'll bet these guys have staffers working on finding easy pickings like this. Perfect cases to protect us without stirring up the opposing party.

    Classic political hyperbole here too "People shouldn't feel like they have a ticking time bomb in their pockets." Wow, you'd think it was an election year.
  3. misor

    misor TechSpot Addict Posts: 965   +147

    And why are these "knock-offs" allowed to be sold in the first place?
    I thought that before a product can be sold, it must pass through rigorous testing.

    product standards? underwriters laboratories (UL)?
  4. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 2,797   +702

    Maybe his mates & family are in the OE battery import business.
  5. m4a4

    m4a4 TechSpot Addict Posts: 505   +133

    Well, there are just some things you shouldn't buy cheap in the first place...
    highlander84 likes this.
  6. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 2,011   +683


    No, there's no testing to pass. You could sell packs of gum and call them batteries until someone sued you. The entire health supplement market for example depends on loose standards. So long as it doesn't hurt you, they can sell whatever they want and say it does whatever they want so long as they don't claim it's a drug/medicine. One of the favorite ingredients in supplements is rice flour... it helps fill up the pill to a standard size.

    It sounds like some huge problem, but In a way the market regulates it self. If what you're selling is complete BS then word will get out. If it's really complete BS you can get sued and/or sent to jail if someone gets hurt or sick. And nowadays with online reviews you can read about whether a health supplement works or if a cell battery gets hot and/or dies in a month. Laptop chargers are also an area where cheap products are common, but Amazon's reviews let you know.

    The important stuff is regulated, like cars and baby cribs, but cheap stuff isn't. You have to be careful with regulation too, because the last time a politician wanted to protect us from a problem that really wasn't a problem it was lead paint in kid's toys. There was a case where they found lead paint in a toy from China (I don't think anyone actually ate it even), but they passed a law saying that lead isn't allowed in kids toys. No one really cared, since no one uses lead paint anymore, but the companies that make those electric cars for kids to ride in got screwed because there's lead in the (sealed) batteries.
    misor likes this.
  7. cmbjive

    cmbjive TechSpot Enthusiast Posts: 447   +75

    Doesn't apply if the product is made, sold and shipped from another country.

    If the Li-Ion battery costs $5 now you know why.
    misor likes this.
  8. Tygerstrike

    Tygerstrike TechSpot Enthusiast Posts: 827   +93

    People are CHEAP. Period. They would rather get a battery online at 14.99 then spend the 54.99 that is asked for an original battery. I see it all the time.
    Customer: I need a new battery for my phone, this one sucks"
    Me: Well I have X battery but it costs between 49.99-54.99"
    Customer: Thats Bullsh!t. I'll just get online its cheaper"

    Now normally the batteries ppl get online ARE cheaper, but I always warn ppl that you get what you paid for. I just had a customer a few weeks ago who wanted a battery. I told him the cost and he freaked out. He told me that the battery was more then he paid for the phone. I instructed him to not use his phone while it was plugged in and he would save some wear and tear on his new battery. He stormed out of my store. Then about 2 weeks later he comes back in GLOATING that he had bought a battery from Amazon and it only cost him $10. I congradulated him on his shopping savvy but warned that it wasnt a original battery. He skoffed and said he didnt care, his phone works and thats all that mattered. About a week and a half later, his wife comes in and QUIETLY purchases the 49.99 battery. Come to find out that he tried using his phone while it was charging and it expanded and blew out on his hand. Causing a nasty little burn. That person was lucky as he could have been talking on his phone when it happed, it could have gotten all over his face.
    cmbjive likes this.
  9. Nice little story, Tygerstrike. Almost had me believe that it conveniently happened few weeks back and now warning us....but nice try.

    You sounded more like a lobbyist to this senator.
  10. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 2,011   +683

    So if his cheap battery blew out and his wife came in and bought the right battery, that means his phone must still be working. That's pretty lucky too. Or maybe they needed the right battery to find out, in which case, they might be back in soon to get a new phone as well. :)

    I'll admit I've bought the $5 Amazon batteries (I bought an extended one). Never had one break, but they've expanded like a balloon a little bit.
  11. H3llion

    H3llion TechSpot Paladin Posts: 949   +96

    Sometimes you can get both cheap and of premium quality :)
     
  12. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TechSpot Paladin Posts: 5,751   +1,421

    There are some things that shouldn't be sold in the first place. This would prevent people from buying them to begin with.

    It's my opinion; anything that presents a safety hazard, should be recalled by law.
  13. Many of these "knockoff" batteries are in fact identical to the "real" batteries. On two occasions I have peeled off the sticker around the battery and found the actual identical model number underneath. Same factory, only some go out one door with an official sticker and the others go out another door with a different sticker. The official sticker constitutes a $50 mark up.

    More recently I have been buying higher capacity replacement batteries for my gadgets. $10 and 50% longer battery life is well worth it. Thus far I haven't had any extra heat or cause for worry. We hear about recalls due to overheating and explosions with brand name batteries often enough... it's all relative in my opinion.
  14. And don't forget those glorious times the manufacturer is forced to issue a "product recall" - early Samsung S3 batteries supplied with the phones had issues. Invariably the "cheap" versions come from the same factory... just somehow manage to by-pass Quality Control on the way out to market.

    As to China knocking... have you seen the RAPEX report (consumer product report published in Europe) - nearly every item on their dangerous list is listed as "made in China" makes you wonder what all those accreditation offices (Under Writers etc.) are actually doing about product safety from their local offices.

    Seems a UK politician has just launched in about phone chargers

    A co-ordinated "Snowden" response?
  15. NTAPRO

    NTAPRO TechSpot Enthusiast Posts: 807   +91

    But then people are going to find someone to blame when it happens and try to sue when they were forewarned >_>
  16. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 10,385   +825

    Did Senator Douche play the, "and you'll be funding terrorism" card, while he was talking for the benefit of listening to the sound of his own voice?

    95% of what they sell in dollars stores is crap. And yet, that's a booming business.

    Maybe someone should take him aside, and explain the national debt issue. It's the reason people have to buy knock off everything in the first place.

    Besides, don't you have to send your iPhone back to china if it needs batteries?
  17. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 4,576   +76

    They allowed this into the market here now they're trying to defend themselves. Too much is allowed in so we don't know what where getting. These batteries are all over.


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