Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Replacement Phone Catches Fire on a Flight
After briefly enjoying widespread acclaim as Samsung's best smartphone to date before being recalled for fire risks, the Galaxy Note 7 continues to cause headaches for the company after a replacement device was blamed for an onboard fire yesterday at a Kentucky airport.
Shortly after its August release, the Galaxy Note 7 was linked to a spate of fires believed to be caused by the phone's battery. Samsung ceased sales in the U.S. on September 2 and began an exchange program for customers who had already purchased a phone. On September 20, it initiated a voluntary recall for the device in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
Yesterday, however, a replacement version of the Galaxy Note 7 that had been deemed safe by Samsung reportedly caught fire on board a Southwest Airlines airplane sitting at the gate at Louisville International Airport. While the fire didn't cause any injuries, it is now being investigated by the CPSC and the Federal Aviation Administration.
Smoke Billowing 'Out of My Pocket'
Samsung did not respond to our request for comment on the incident. However, the Verge reported yesterday that the company provided the following statement: "Until we are able to retrieve the device, we cannot confirm that this incident involves the new Note 7. We are working with the authorities and Southwest now to recover the device and confirm the cause. Once we have examined the device we will have more information to share."
According to the Verge report, Galaxy Note 7 owner Brian Green had just powered down the phone as the plane was preparing for a flight to Baltimore when the device began smoking.
"I shut down the phone, saw it was going through its power-down cycle, just placed the phone in my pocket and within a few seconds i heard a pop similar to like a Ziplock bag popping open," Green said in an interview with Louisville's WAVE 3 News. "I kind of looked around to see what was going on and I had smoke just billowing out of my clothes and out of my pocket and I pulled the phone out and then threw it down on the ground because I didn't want it exploding in my hand."
Sales Had Already Restarted in South Korea
The Verge report included a photo taken by Green of the scorched phone lying on the plane's carpeted floor. A check of the device's IMEI on Samsung's Web site indicated that the phone, which Green said he had picked up on September 21, was not on the company's recall list, according to the Verge.
About half of all recalled phones in the U.S. had been exchanged by September 22, according to Samsung's most recent recall update, released on that date. The company announced Monday that the new version of its Galaxy Note 7 had already gone on sale in South Korea and would "follow suit in markets worldwide in coming weeks."
Reuters reported this morning that "Samsung Electronics is still desperately trying to limit the damage of a record global recall announced more than a month ago." The company is also "being pressured by one of the world's most aggressive hedge funds, Elliott Management, to split the company and pay out $27 billion in a special dividend," Reuters noted.