Exploding Batteries Just Led To One Of The Biggest Recalls In History

Photo: Courtesy Samsung.
Update: September 12, 2016: This piece was updated with recent news of an exploding phone leading to hotel charges, airplane warnings, and a six-year-old boy getting burned.

It's common enough to hear about food and furniture recalls, but less so for major tech products. Sure, there's the occasional car issue (and Apple's recent AC plug adapter recall), but when it comes to things such as your smartphone, a massive recall is very rare — which is why today's news is so shocking.

In an unprecedented event, Samsung issued a global recall for its newest smartphone, the Galaxy Note7, just a month after the phone was released to rave reviews.

Shortly after the Galaxy Note7 went on sale, some early bird buyers in the U.S. and South Korea shared photos and videos of burnt phones that had caught fire after or during charging. According to Samsung, the fires were caused by a battery cell issue. Such fires are a small risk with lithium-ion batteries, the type used in smartphones, but normally these occasions are extremely rare and isolated.

One Reddit user even posted that his phone exploded in a hotel room in Australia, resulting in almost $1,400 in hotel fines. Getting overcharged for the minibar is usually bad enough, but having to deal with fees for an accident you had no control over is far worse.

In an official statement about the recall, Samsung said:

"In response to recently reported cases of the new Galaxy Note7, we conducted a thorough investigation and found a battery cell issue. To date (as of September 1), there have been 35 cases that have been reported globally, and we are currently conducting a thorough inspection with our suppliers to identify possible affected batteries in the market. However, because our customers’ safety is an absolute priority at Samsung, we have stopped sales of the Galaxy Note7."

We thought the phone, with its increased storage, gorgeous blue color, and interactive lock screen, would be the iPhone's biggest competitor yet. With a new iPhone just announced, this could be one huge nightmare come true for Samsung.

In the weeks since the recall, the Federal Aviation Administration asked passengers to refrain from using the phone onboard airplanes and the Consumer Product Safety Commission has told people to turn off and stop using the phones. According to The New York Post, a six-year-old boy was burned when the phone exploded while he was playing video games.

If you were one of the people who bought the phone, Samsung said it will replace your purchase in store. For now, be safe and use your old smartphone, if you've still got it.
This article was originally published on September 2, 2016.
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