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‘Safe’ Galaxy Note 7 explodes, burning owner (and Samsung)

Published Sep 27th, 2016 11:52AM EDT
Note 7 Recall
Image: Zach Epstein, BGR

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Samsung is doing well at recalling and replacing millions of potentially explosive Galaxy Note 7 devices, but that recall could all be for nothing. According to a report, a theoretically safe Note 7, bought over the weekend in China, burst into flames and injured the owner. That’s not good.

Bloomberg Quint spoke to a Chinese man, 25-year-old Hui Renjie, who had a Note 7 delivered from an online retailer over the weekend. But according to Renjie, the device exploded on Monday morning, damaging his MacBook and burning two of his fingers.

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The report says that Renjie bought the device from online retailer But just 24 hours after it was delivered, the phone burst into flames. “The incident caused minor injuries to two of his fingers and burned his Apple Inc. MacBook,” reports Bloomberg. “A Samsung representative visited him soon afterward and asked to take away the phone, he said, but he declined the offer because he doesn’t trust the company to reveal the reason for the fire, and plans to publicize the issue.”

Whatever the cause behind the fire, it’s not good news for Samsung. But the severity of the problem really depends on whether this was a newly-manufactured device, or an old explosive Note 7 that was never removed from the supply chain.

If it’s just a screw-up of the recall process, that’s one thing. It’s still not a good thing! But, it means this is the fault of a few lone employees, rather than a bigger design problem.

The more sinister news for Samsung will come if this was a newly-manufactured Note. If that proves to be the case, and the problem is not just a one-off, it could lead to a second round of recalls. Given how thin customer loyalty is in the first, place, a second recall would be the end for the Note 7 line.

That’s bad news for Samsung, which has worked hard to pull off a recall in record time. “Just over three weeks ago, Samsung committed to a global replacement program for the Galaxy Note7. Last week, that program began for the majority of markets and the progress is encouraging” said Samsung’s mobile boss DJ Koh. “Our focus now is to make sure that all affected devices are replaced as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

In an update, Samsung shared the following three data points:

  • Around 90 percent of Galaxy Note7 users have been choosing a new Galaxy Note7 since products became widely available.
  • More than 60 percent of all recalled Galaxy Note7 phones sold in the U.S. and Korea have been exchanged through the program.
  • In Singapore, more than 80 percent of customers have participated in the exchange program, which started on September 17.

But all the impressive recall stats in the world don’t mean anything if the replacement devices are still combustible. Samsung told Bloomberg that “we are currently contacting the customer and will conduct a thorough examination of the device in question once we receive it.” It’s going to be a nervous few days for everyone at Samsung HQ.

Chris Mills
Chris Mills News Editor

Chris Mills has been a news editor and writer for over 15 years, starting at Future Publishing, Gawker Media, and then BGR. He studied at McGill University in Quebec, Canada.