Motorola and Nokia Call Attention to Exploding, Fake Batteries in China

July 11, 2007 by Jeff Shepard

The death of a migrant worker, who was killed last month when his cell phone (reportedly a Motorola Inc. model) reportedly exploded in his chest pocket, prompted safety inspectors in southern China to conduct studies that showed nearly half of the mobile phone batteries examined to be defective, as well as about 80% of battery re-chargers. The report also found that four counterfeit battery models may explode if used in Motorola and Nokia Corp. handsets. According to the report, in order to compete in the market, some manufacturers removed key parts and sold re-chargers at low prices to reduce costs.

Neither Motorola or provincial law enforcement had confirmed that the phone involved in the fatal incident with the farm worker was actually a company product. Motorola stated that it was working with Chinese authorities to discover the cause of the fire.

According to some estimates, more than 10 million fake mobile phone batteries are produced in China yearly, the world’s biggest mobile market (in terms of users), with about 15% exported, mostly to developing nations in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Authentic Nokia or Motorola batteries may be seven times more expensive than a fake one.

According the government findings, Foshan Weierrui Telecommunications Equipment sold two batteries for use in Motorola phones that could explode. The batteries were labeled as being made by Motorola. Guangzhou Jietong Telecommunications Equipment also was named for selling a battery used in Motorola handsets that could explode. The power packs list Motorola as the maker. Foshan Weierrui also sold a battery model for use in Nokia handsets that could explode. The battery listed Japan’s Sanyo Electric as the manufacturer. Nokia stated that it has never authorized a third party to make such a battery, thus declaring it to be counterfeit. Motorola also stated that it has no relationship with either of the Chinese companies.