It was a typical Thursday morning until a student’s phone caught on fire. No one in the freshman math class was injured, but the smoky smell closed the room for the rest of the day.
While the recall of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 has received wide press coverage, the phone that started on fire in the Missouri classroom was a Galaxy S7 Edge. In September, a California man suffered serious burns when the same model caught fire in his pants pocket and an Ohio house fire was blamed on one that had been charging.
Are batteries the actual cause?
Before Samsung made the decision to recall the Note 7, it had received 92 reports from U.S. customers of batteries overheating. But the company engineers were not able to replicate the problems or get a phone to start on fire.
Batteries from a subsidiary were initially blamed. The thought was that the configuration of plates in the battery increased the risk of a short circuit. The company initially recalled 2.5 million Note 7s with these batteries. They exchanged many of the smartphones with an alternative model that used a battery from a different supplier. These had similar issues indicating that the problem was more complicated.
Similar technology across devices
Smartphone innovation has been occurring at a rapid clip. The race between manufacturers to stuff more features into sleeker packages can mean devices enter the market via accelerated R&D.
When another model has similar issues, it leads to questions about how similar the technology is across different models. Could these recent Galaxy S7 Edge reports indicate a larger problem? Extensive research and investigations in each case will be the only way to find the answer.
Companies have a duty to provide safe products and can be held liable when they fail to meet this standard. When a malfunctioning phone causes serious injury or property damage, a lawsuit is one way to uncover a defect and hold the manufacturer responsible.