Samsung asks customers to switch off Note 7
By Ajith Ram October 11, 2016
- Even replaced devices are exploding
- Company accused of dragging its feet
SAMSUNG is going where no smartphone manufacturer has gone before. The South Korean company has urged owners of the Galaxy Note 7 to completely turn off the smartphone while it investigates reports of replaced devices catching fire.
The South Korean firm also said it would stop all sales of the phone. It said consumers' safety was its top priority and that it was working to resolve the situation. This is a major setback to the company's reputation as a premier electronics manufacturer.
Samsung had recalled 2.5 million Note 7 phones in September after complaints of exploding batteries, but later assured customers that the fixed devices were safe. But since then, there have been reports of the replacement devices exploding.
A man in Kentucky said he was "scared to death" when he woke to a bedroom full of smoke, according to local reports. Michael Klering says he and his wife woke up to a hissing sound in their bedroom. “I was scared to death for a minute,” Klering said.
Klering says when he opened his eyes, he saw his bedroom was filled with smoke. “The whole room just covered in smoke, smells awful. I look over and my phone is on fire,” Klering said.
He said he had only had his replacement Samsung Galaxy Note 7 for a little more than a week before it caught fire. “The phone is supposed to be the replacement, so you would have thought it would be safe. It wasn’t plugged in. It wasn’t anything, it was just sitting there,” Klering said.
A replacement Samsung Galaxy Note 7 device, deemed safe by Samsung, had also reportedly caught fire on a Southwest Airlines plane.
The plane due to fly from Louisville, Kentucky, to Baltimore, Maryland, was evacuated before take-off. A Southwest Airlines spokesperson told the BBC: "A customer reported smoke emitting from an electronic device. All customers and crew deplaned safely via the main cabin door."
Samsung is now facing accusations of dragging its heels in the face of new reports that its Note 7 phones were still burning up. It is possible that the company cannot bring itself to believe that even the 'safe' replacements are exploding.
"Because consumers' safety remains our top priority, Samsung will ask all carrier and retail partners globally to stop sales and exchanges of the Galaxy Note 7 while the investigation is taking place," the company said in a statement. "Consumers with either an original Galaxy Note 7 or replacement Galaxy Note 7 device should power down and stop using the device and take advantage of the remedies available," it added.
The lithium ion batteries used by Samsung are common across the tech industry. The cathode and anode are separated by an organic liquid called an electrolyte and a porous material called the separator. The lithium travels through the separator, within the liquid, between the two.
If the battery charges too fast, generating heat, lithium plates form around the anode which can create a short circuit. Batteries are optimised so that you do not charge too fast. Other faults that can cause a short circuit include contamination by tiny fragments of metal during the production process or minute holes in the sealing, which might not become apparent until the battery has been charged a few times as the materials expand and contract.
See this video below for a demonstration of an exploding battery.
However battery packs combining battery cells to generate more power can be problematic and this is increasingly common. Batteries containing 12 cells, for example, are readily available for laptops. Since they contain more power, they are also more likely to burst into flames.
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