iPhone 8, 'swollen batteries', and what you really need to know

Here's the thing: Every year, every iPhone— every phone by every manufacturer sold anywhere and everywhere around the world — will have some small percentage of battery failures. That can include swelling, combustion, and suddenly failure to charge or hold a charge. It's the realities of the lithium-ion technology currently used in the power cells. It happens every year. It happens all the time.

It may not be widely known because it didn't used to be widely reported. A few outlets would cover it but pretty much everyone knew what it was and took it for what it was — a curiosity more than actual news.

This year, we're getting numerous headlines about it happening twice with iPhone 8. (That's twice (2x) out of however many hundreds of thousands if not millions already shipped.)

The difference in attention being afforded these cases is likely due to heightened sensitivity following the Galaxy Note 7 recall of 2016.

The problem with Galaxy Note 7 was that it exhibited incidents of battery failure far higher than is typical, and those failures were repeatedly causing fires.

Apple is currently investigating the iPhones 8 in question, as the company does any issues following any launch. There is an interesting aside, though, noticed by iMore's sibling site, Android Central's, electrical ace, Jerry Hildenbrand:

Those photos show exactly what is expected, and are actually a good look at a safe design. When the case can expand slowly along with the battery, there won't be as big of a chance for fire.

What you can do in the meantime, and all the time, really, is follow best practices when it comes to charging your electronics:

  • Don't use cheap, damaged, or dodgy chargers or connect good chargers to cheap, damaged, or dodgy extension cords or power bars.
  • If you suspect your battery has been compromised, turn off your iPhone immediately and take it to an Apple Store or call AppleCare as quickly as possible.

By all means, stay informed. Pay attention. But, unless Apple finds anything out of the ordinary or the number of battery failures reported starts to exceed industry norms, it's not a story. Or, perhaps, the attention being paid to the phones could be more of a story than the phones.

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.