Smartphones & Magnets: All you need to know

Anyone working with or near magnets will have been made aware of the many health and safety warnings regarding magnets. One warning has always been that you must keep magnets away from computers, credit cards, and even your phone.

So, do magnets pose a threat to phones and other modern technology? If so, what threats do they pose and how strong must a magnet be to damage a phone, and what parts of the device would be susceptible to damage?

The whole idea can be traced back to older pieces of technology in which data was stored magnetically, using small bits of iron.

However, thanks to the constant flow of technological advancements magnets are very unlikely to interfere and damage a smartphone, but this is dependant on the magnet and how you use your phone or what you need it to do.

How can a magnet affect your smartphone?

Nowadays everyone has a smartphone, and they are crucial for not only our personal lives but can be essential for working life as well. Knowing a powerful magnet won’t wipe your phone’s data is therefore important.

But don’t worry, we can put at ease and say that due to the way storage devices have developed, magnets will not affect your smartphone.

Newer devices contain solid-state drives which don’t use magnetism to store data, so they are completely safe from magnetic interference.

Similarly, modern screens will be either LCD or LED-based which stops any chance of magnets interfering with their functionality. To break your phone screen with a magnet would require direct contact, such as dropping the magnet on your screen. 

Did you know?

There are actually several tiny magnets located throughout a smartphone in order for it to carry out specific functions, such as wireless charging seen in newer phones.

How magnets could affect your apps

While we can tell you that your screen and data are safe, one part of your phone won’t be; the compass. Although many people will instantly think they don’t use the compass app, this damage could still have a knock-on effect to other apps.

Stronger magnets can affect the internal magnetic sensors located inside a smartphone and potentially could magnetise some steel in your phone.

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Stronger magnets can affect the internal magnetic sensors located inside a smartphone and potentially could magnetise some steel in your phone.

As well as affecting your phones compass other apps such as maps or any apps that asks for your location could be affected. If a phones compass becomes corrupt these apps could become extremely difficult to use.

If you do plan on having any sort of magnetic accessory attached to your phone, for example in a case, it is better to have this closer to the bottom of a device as magnetometers are usually towards the top of the device.

However, for a magnetic accessory to interfere with a phones compass it would have to be a strong magnet, much stronger than magnets used in common phone cases. Meaning it is highly unlikely smaller and commonly used magnets in phone accessories will not damage a smartphone.

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