Is Using a Smartphone While It's Charging Dangerous?

Stay safe with manufacturer-approved battery and charger

There are plenty of rules floating around about the best ways to charge your cell phone. You may have heard the rumor that cellphones can explode if you use them while they are charging, but this isn't accurate. Several instances of cellphones that caught fire were covered in the news, but none of them were traced to simultaneously using and charging the phone.

Two smart phones charging with a wall socket in the background.

Where Did the Rumor Begin?

The original news story that likely started the rumor that it was dangerous to charge and talk at the same time didn't report the complete details. The story, which appeared all over the internet in 2013, said a Chinese flight attendant's iPhone 4 exploded when she used it while it was charging. 

As it turns out, the attendant was using a third-party charger, not the Apple charger that ships with the phone. It was almost certainly the cause of the incident.

That doesn't mean that problems can't happen with phones, but they are likely the result of poor wiring or incompatible or faulty phone parts. 

Is Charging While Using a Cellphone Dangerous?

No explosion is likely to occur in the normal course of events if you use the phone while it is charging using a manufacturer-approved battery and charger. This doesn't mean you must buy a replacement from the manufacturer. There are acceptable off-brand chargers, but there are also cheap knockoffs that you should avoid at all costs. Buy from a reputable manufacturer. If you aren't sure, contact the phone's manufacturer for acceptable alternatives.

How Can I Avoid Charging Problems?

If you are worried about the possibility of danger from your phone, these commonsense steps may ease your mind:

  • Use compatible batteries and power supplies with your cell phone model.
  • Use a surge protector when you charge the phone, especially when you are traveling.
  • Don't leave your phone in a hot car. Heat can damage the battery. There's no evidence that this can cause any danger, but it doesn't hurt to be careful. 

Billions of cell phones have been sold, and only a handful of exploding cellphone stories have appeared. You are unlikely to encounter any danger from an exploding phone