Date
25 March 2017
Pictures posted online by a Galaxy Note 7 user in Hong Kong have fueled fresh concerns about battery problems in Samsung's new smartphones. Photos: Facebook/Christy Wong
Pictures posted online by a Galaxy Note 7 user in Hong Kong have fueled fresh concerns about battery problems in Samsung's new smartphones. Photos: Facebook/Christy Wong

HK woman reports Note 7 fire; Samsung suspects ‘external heat’

A Hong Kong woman has claimed that her Galaxy Note 7 smartphone caught fire, adding to the recent spate of such incidents that were reported overseas on Samsung’s new gadget.

The user, who identified herself as Christy Wong, wrote on Facebook that her phone emitted smoke and burst into flames on Monday as she was using it at her home.

Posting photos of the burnt phone, Wong said she was shaken by the incident involving her new 64-gigabyte device, which was purchased from a Wilson Communications store on Sept. 2.

After buying the phone, Wong became aware of reports of overheating batteries in Note 7 handsets, a problem which prompted Samsung to order a recall of some units. 

Wong said she inquired with Wilson Communications whether her phone was on the recall list, only to be told it was not.

Given the assurance, the incident on Monday, when her phone melted, was shocking, she said. 

According to Wong, she was using the Taobao online shopping App of e-commerce giant Alibaba when the phone began emitting smoke.

When she saw the smoke, she immediately dropped it to the floor, helping her avoid injuries to her hands.

Samsung Hong Kong, which announced on Sept. 3 that 500 phones sold in Hong Kong between Aug. 26 and Sept. 1 needed to be recalled and replaced, said it has learnt about the incident involving Wong’s phone Monday evening.

It said it has inspected the damaged device to determine the cause of the accident.

Based on tests conducted jointly with battery maker Amperex Technology, the company concluded that the phone fire was caused by “external heat”, and not due to any battery problem, it said

The company said it has contacted the user, who is currently abroad, to gather more details.

Given that Wong did not mention anything about external heat in her post, the accident has sparked worries that Note 7 phone might have defects other than the battery, the Hong Kong Economic Journal noted.

That phone that was once highly praised and enjoyed high sales has hurt Samsung big time, with about 2.5 million units having been recalled in 10 countries and regions.

Cheung Sing-wai, an associate professor at the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering of the University of Hong Kong, said the photos posted by Wong suggest that there was an explosion of the lithium-ion battery in the phone.

He pointed out that the explosion was so big that the device’s frame was torn apart.

Cheung said he finds it surprising that Samsung has recalled only 500 units of Galaxy Note 7 sold in Hong Kong, given the volume of the company’s production and sales.

He urged Samsung as well as government authorities to look deep into the matter on an urgent basis. Until the safety issues are resolved, it may be better if people stop using the phone, he said.

[Chinese version 中文版]

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