• More Galaxy Note 7 Smartphones Catch Fire

    More Galaxy Note 7 Smartphones Catch Fire

    What started as a suspected flaw with the Galaxy Note 7’s battery could very well be turning into a closer examination of the phone’s design. The first weeks of October have seen, at most recent count, four more Samsung Note 7 phones erupting into heat and smoke. And these phones are the “safe” replacement phones. Although it makes sense to probe for other causes behind the phone’s dangers, Samsung isn’t providing much information about its troubleshooting. In fact, several news sources have pointed out that Samsung knew of the phone’s dangers early on but did nothing to alert the public.

    The timeline is clear. On Tuesday, October 4, Michael Klering of Kentucky woke up at 4am to find his replacement Galaxy Note 7 releasing smoke. He contacted Samsung but customer service agents were slow to offer an explanation. However, it is clear that Samsung did have notification that the replacement phone was a potential hazard before other phones began to release heat and smoke. Still, Samsung did nothing to alert the public back on Tuesday, as reported in The Verge.

    On Thursday, October 6, a Southwest Airlines flight was evacuated because another replacement phone emitted smoke and heat. The owner of that phone held it in his pocket where he felt it warm up, fizzle and then release smoke after he dropped it to the floor. After that public melting, Samsung told the public that it was investigating the device. On Friday, October 7, another phone in Minnesota also emitted smoke and had a melted cover, and as of October 9, a fourth phone erupted into flames during the early morning hours, this time in Virginia.

    Although Samsung has assured the public that it is working alongside the Consumer Product Safety Commission and will follow the protocols CPSC advises, Samsung has yet to admit that a public safety issue exists. The country’s four major carriers might not be so sure. They have each agreed to exchange all of their customers’ Galaxy Note 7 phones. Writers from The Verge are calling the Galaxy Note 7 a “fundamentally defective product” and are calling for its removal from the market.

    But what could be responsible? Back in September, CNET provided a fairly in-depth discussion on the problems inherent to lithium batteries. Lithium batteries are small, light-weight and provide enough power to satisfy a smartphone’s thirst for energy. Unfortunately, lithium batteries contain a highly flammable liquid. If the battery is squeezed, or punctured, the liquid escapes and someone can end up with a smoking hole in their pocket, or worse. The flaw, as it was understood in September, was the pressure the Galaxy Note 7 places on its battery. Samsung admitted to a manufacturing error that placed too much pressure on the battery’s plates, which allowed the negative and positive poles to come into contact. When this happens, heat and flame happen. The replacement phones should have corrected this problem. However, this does not appear to be the case.

    Until Samsung figures out other manufacturing flaws, it may be best to heed the advice of tech writers and experts. Exchange your Galaxy Note 7.