Users of some Google LLC Pixel smartphones are complaining online that the batteries in their phones are swelling in what could potentially be a design issue with the phones.
The issue is being primarily reported by users of the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL phones, although some users are also reporting similar issues with their Pixel 4 and 4XL phones as well. Along with reporting that their phones are physically contorting as the battery swells, users are saying that in some cases they can’t charge their phones once this occurs.
The first report of a Pixel 3 battering swelling was filed on the Pixel Phone Help forum May 17 with about 100 more Pixel users chiming in since then. Various threads on Reddit also detail similar issues, including with the Pixel 4 XL.
Google and other phone sellers seem to be responding to the issue in different ways depending on the phone. For Pixel 3 and 3 XL users, some have been charged for repairs since their phones were out of warranty. Pixel 4 and 4 XL users have seemingly mostly had their devices repaired, with a battery issue identified as the problem.
Oh wow… just found out why the wireless charging stopped working on the Pixel 3… check out the battery bloat that pushed the back cover out.
— Artem Russakovskii (@ArtemR) August 9, 2020
As The Next Web noted, the cause of the issue remains unclear, but one common thread is that the swelling appeared shortly after the devices’ wireless charging started to malfunction or stopped working altogether. That could be an chicken-and-egg issue, however, since it’s unclear which came first — the wireless charger causing the problem with the battery or issues with the battery causing problems with wireless charging. One suggestion is that the use of wireless charging and the heat associated with it could be accelerating the swelling, although that’s not an issue with other phones.
Battery swelling is not unheard of but is rare with newer phones. According to iFixit, battery swelling is most commonly associated with a chemical reaction in lithium-ion batteries degrading over time, particularly as the batteries age, or they can be the result of a technical or design issue. The most famous example of a design issue was with Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.’s Galaxy Note 7, which not only swelled but also had a tendency to catch fire before it was recalled in 2016.
Any Pixel users experiencing the issue are encouraged to contact a Google support specialist. Android Central reported that users should receive a replacement device within a few days.
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