EE has been forced to recall half a million portable battery packs it gave away for free, after several were found to put customers at risk.
The UK’s biggest mobile operator, which has almost 30 million customers under the EE, Orange and T-Mobile brands, said around 500,000 Power Bars may carry a fault which makes the devices prone to overheating.
Last month, a medical student in Aberdeen was seriously burned when her battery pack exploded, setting her bedroom on fire.
On Wednesday EE said it found five Power Bars, all of a particular batch marked “E1-06”, to be faulty, and asked customers to return the packs.
Around a third of the 1.5 million Power Bars in circulation are marked E1-06, meaning hundreds of thousands of customers could potentially be at risk, although many of the battery packs are in stores rather than public hands. The E1-06 models are one of seven batches of Power Bars, and no issues had been detected with other versions.
EE announced a UK-first in April when it said it would give customers free rechargeable power packs, which allow them to charge smartphones when out and about. Customers can also replace empty ones with fully-charged Power Bars at EE stores..
Power Bars contain a relatively standard lithium-ion battery, which are used in almost all modern electronic devices. Lithium is less dense than other metals, which allows batteries to store more power, but can be highly reactive.
Although dangerous incidents are rare, minor faults can cause heat to become trapped, and batteries can become so hot that they explode.
EE urged customers to return the E1-06 models to stores, and said it was investigating the matter. The Power Bar programme is already on hold due to huge demand for the programme, which 1.5 million customers have joined