What to do with your old phone, PC or tablet?

What to do with your old phone, PC or tablet?


Many of us see their old devices (smartphone, PC, tablet, etc.) get damaged over the years due to a swollen battery. Here are some tips to follow if, by chance, this happens to you.

Swollen battery
What to do with a swollen battery? // Source: Frandroid

We can strive to preserve our batteries, they have, alas, a tendency to swell in old devices after a few years lying around in the bottom of a drawer. This seems especially true in the summer when heat waves take a toll on them. At the house of Frandroidwe were able to experience this with a Samsung Galaxy S7 whose shell had been broken by the accumulator.

The phenomenon may be quite common, but it is nonetheless impressive. Some might wonder what to do with an old smartphone, PC or tablet whose battery has swollen. Here are some answers.

Why do batteries swell?

Remember that the vast majority of our electronic devices rely on lithium-ion batteries. These have several qualities, some flaws, but above all, as their name suggests, it works through chemical reactions. Yes, you have to provide energy. It is precisely for the proper functioning of these chemical reactions that it is recommended to maintain the energy level of your smartphone as much as possible between 20 and 80%. Staying above or below this range for too long can accelerate battery aging.

🫣 @ArnaudGelineau had a little surprise when he found his old Galaxy S7

Reminder ⚠️: If this happens to you, do not attempt to remove the battery, use or charge the phone as this can be dangerous! pic.twitter.com/7YgYD9rf4Z

— Frandroid (@Frandroid) July 26, 2022

However, even if you have meticulously taken care of your device, its battery will inexorably age over the years. After some time, it will inevitably end up experiencing some malfunctions. So, since these are chemical reactions, these worries cause the creation of gas in some cases. This gas will push on the walls of the battery and cause it to swell gradually.

By inflating, the accumulator will in turn push against the hull of the smartphone (or PC or tablet) until it gives way. If, in addition to this, the battery or its integration into the device suffers from a defect – as was the case with the infamous Galaxy Note 7 – the product can catch fire.

Swollen battery: take all precautions

If you find a product burst due to a swollen battery, proceed with the utmost caution. Do not attempt to charge the device. Do not try to light it and avoid handling it as much as possible. There is always a significant risk that it will explode in your face.

Also, be aware that just because you don’t see damage to a device (a phone, for example) doesn’t mean the battery inside isn’t swollen. Even on products that still appear intact, be vigilant for potential chemical or metallic odors that could escape. This is one of the signs of a swollen battery.

You should also know that it is strongly discouraged to keep the damaged phone, PC or tablet at home. But beware, this does not mean that you can dispose of the device with the rest of your household waste. Electronic waste must be subject to special treatment.

What to do with a swollen battery

In France, the Ministry of Ecological Transition explains that “ electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) often contains environmentally hazardous substances or components […]but they also have a high potential for recycling the materials that compose them […] “. The ideal is therefore obviously to go to the nearest recycling center to calmly deposit the damaged device.

The ministry also highlights the role of the waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) sector in France. It is in this context that the sites of organizations such as Ecosystem or Ecologic will direct you to the right place to drop off your device for recycling. Do not hesitate to inquire with these platforms.

Finally, in the details of the Ministry of Ecological Transition, a passage is particularly important.

[…]producers of household electrical and electronic equipment are responsible for the collection and treatment of household WEEE collected selectively on national territory, including in the overseas departments and in the overseas communities for which the national regulations apply.

In other words, it is in your interest to inquire with the customer service of the brand that has placed your product on the market (eg: Apple, Asus, Xiaomi, etc.). The latter must indeed offer a program for taking back old devices, either by organizing it itself, or by relying on a specialized partner. It is also in this same spirit of encouraging eco-responsible behavior around electronic products that France has set up the repairability index.

Finally, some would be tempted to replace the swollen battery of their old device themselves. We absolutely do not recommend this solution, especially for people who are not used to tinkering in this way. However, iFixit gives you some advice on this. The more adventurous among you can take a look.

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