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This holiday, check your old phone for a fat battery

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I found something in a junk drawer this week that was at first exciting, then alarming. In the drawer was an old smartphone that I’d not powered on for several years, at least. Cool, I’ll just start it up and time travel back to the point at which I last turned it off, right? But wait a moment here… this phone is significantly thicker than it was when I last saw it. This is not good.

Why did this phone get thick?

The thickness came from a chemical failure of the device’s lithium ion battery. I’d never opened this device before – I never had a reason. The only reason a person might open up a device like this would be to fix a component inside, or replace a component inside.

We’ve seen this sort of thing happen in a bunch of phones over the past decade, from all sorts of manufacturers. Most of the time we see this sort of thing happen, it’s because new phone users are working with off-brand plugs and such.

With a phone that’s been left in a drawer for several years, there’s a chance the chemical-based setup within will… fail. If you see this sort of thing happen, you have a few options and at least one NON-OPTION.

What to avoid

One NON-OPTION is charging the device. Do not charge the device. Do not plug your phone in to any sort of wire, nor set your device on any sort of wireless charger. You absolutely do NOT want to agitate the battery package if at all possible.

Can I fix a swollen battery? No, you can not fix a swollen battery. The deed is done. The only thing left to do is isolate the battery and/or the phone with the battery inside before you contact a professional.

Do NOT put your phone in the fridge or make any attempt to “cool it down.” The expansion is not temperature-dependent. The expansion cannot simply be reversed.

Do not do ANYTHING that may result in you piercing the battery’s protective layer. If you do that, the battery may explode and start a fire. See our feature Where to put your old phone batteries to see some explosions, courtesy of batteries that’ve been disposed of incorrectly.

What needs doing

It is not easy to open most smartphones not meant to be opened – especially one like this, held together with glue AND clips, with no easily accessible screws. The manufacturer of this phone, Samsung, did not build this phone with the intent that it be easily opened or its hardware replaced (or even removed) by the average user.

As such, you’ll more than likely want to seek the assistance of a professional. Gadget repair specialists are used to seeing this sort of thing – it happens far more often than you’d think. They’ll know how to safely remove the battery and potentially replace the battery IF that is possible.

There’s a real possibility that your phone will need to be brought to your city’s official landfill. You may want to call ahead, as your city’s waste management specialists will want to take special care of the battery and the phone to avoid an explosion and/or fire.

What if today is a holiday?

If you find an expanded battery in a smartphone and it is a holiday, chances are your local battery-handling professional won’t be available to dispose of your fire hazard of a phone. The LEAST you can do is place the battery (or the phone with the battery inside) in a safe place. Isolate the phone and/or the battery – away from paper, away from anything flammable.

Get the device outside as quick as possible if you can. Put the device in a fireproof container, like a metal bucket with a layer of sand inside. Above all else – get this thing isolated so WHEN it starts on fire, it’ll cause minimal damage.

This advice was as good a decade ago as it is today. New smartphones, tablets, laptops, wearables, etcetera, still use lithium ion batteries, and lithium ion batteries still fail.

Take caution, and don’t take a risk. This one’s full of fire.

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Samsung Display will mass-produce the first 90Hz OLED laptop screens

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Samsung Display has announced that it will mass-produce the world’s first 90Hz OLED laptops starting in Q1 of 2021. Initially, the company will produce “very large quantities” of 14-inch 90Hz OLED displays aimed at laptops and notebooks. According to Samsung Displaying CEO Joo Sun Choi, the screens will start production in March.

A 90Hz refresh rate is a significant improvement compared to most laptops and notebooks that currently offer a 60Hz refresh rate. Samsung Display says it’s collaborating closely with global computer manufacturers to usher in a new level of excellence for refresh rates. Samsung believes the adoption of the new OLED panels will happen quickly despite the fact that the panel requires the use of a “high-spec graphics card.”

The faster refresh rate updates static images 90 times per second, making the movement on-screen look more lifelike. Faster updates for changes in motion on screen provide smoother visuals appearing more seamless to the viewer. OLED screens can transition between scenes more quickly than LCD screens with the same refresh rate.

Samsung Display says its 90Hz OLED refresh rate is ten times that of the fastest screen response time on the market today. The company notes its 90Hz OLED offers speed on par with 120Hz LCD screens. The high refresh rate of OLED screens makes them particularly well-suited to gaming and watching movies.

In testing, Samsung Display tested blur length using the same motion picture of a car driving fast and found image drag for a 90Hz OLED and a 120Hz LCD measured 0.9mm and 1mm, respectively. Samsung says that its OLED screens smear very little and offer practically the same rate as faster LCDs. It’s unclear what sort of pricing the new OLED will enter the market at.

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iPad Mini 6 leak sounds almost too good to be true

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While Apple continues to push the iPads as the next generation of computers, that rhetoric really only applies to its iPad Pro line. The lines between its various iPads, however, have started to blur, especially with the addition of Apple Pencil support all the way down to the bottom. The iPad Mini, however, still remains Apple’s simplest and most affordable entry point, making these details about the alleged iPad Mini 6 sound more like a wishlist.

Right off the bat, the thought that Apple would even dare mar any of its screens with a punch-hole cutout sounds almost insane, given the company’s attention to design and details. Then again, it did introduce a rather large “bucket” notch and never backed out from that design on the iPhones. It’s exactly because of that stubbornness that it feels almost unlikely that the iPad Mini 6 would sport such a hole.

Pigtou, collaborating with @xleaks, still has more to share, though. The iPad Mini 6, the site claims, will have Apple’s first-ever in-display fingerprint sensor, something the company has been rumored to be working on for years. Given the criticism of the technology and praise for Apple’s Face ID, that again sounds like a step backward.

The rest of the iPad Mini 6 will remain the same, though. The camera will still be small and probably negligible affair while the edges still bear the soft curves of previous iPad Minis. In other words, it won’t be adopting the new iPad and iPad Pro appearances anytime soon.

If these do come to pass, the iPad Mini 6 will have a very competitive screen that will be larger than its predecessors without actually increasing the size of the device. This, however, doesn’t sound like the Apple we know but, to be fair, the company has managed to shock everyone from time to time, for better or, sometimes, for worse.

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Google Calendar now works offline on desktop Chrome

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Google has dozens of apps and services, some of them a bit esoteric while many are popular and useful for both end users and businesses. One thing that is common among most of these is the need for an Internet connection. Google, after all, is primarily an Internet company. That Internet connection, however, might not always be available or stable and, fortunately, Google is making one of its key apps available offline, at least for some set of users.

A centuries-old tool, the humble calendar has gotten upgrades over the years, especially recently in the age of the Internet and apps. Many modern calendars today offer functionality our ancestors could only dream of but some, like Google Calendar, require an Internet connection to even use. No problem if you’re always at home or at the office or have a stable Internet connection with you all the time.

That will not always be the case, though, and you might start having a panic attack when you suddenly get disconnected and have to check whether you’re clear for the next few weeks. Fortunately, that will no longer be the case with this new offline functionality for Google Calendar, provided you meet some of its requirements.

For one, this only works if you’re using Google Calendar on Google Chrome for the desktop, and Google is unsurprisingly silent if it will work on any other desktop web browser. And while you can actually peer into any time into the future, you can only look four weeks into the past, practically just the previous month.

The biggest requirement is that this feature is only available for Google Workspace customers and subscribers, so those with personal accounts will still have to hope for that stable Internet connection when they need to view their events and appointments. Admins can enable or disable this feature as needed while end users can also disable it even if their admin switched it to on.

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