A Samsung customer
in Dublin wanted to but a Galaxy S III smartphone, but seems to have ended up with a "kindle fire."
The story of the unlucky user, known only as dillo2K10, has been making the rounds in tech media since it was posted on the discussion board site Boards.ie, reporting a flame up from Samsung's latest flagship device.
While Samsung is investigating, it appears to be an isolated incident and unclear if a defect was involved.
Bang for Your Buck
"So I driving along today [sic] with my Galaxy S3 in my car mount when suddenly a white flame, sparks and a bang came out of the phone," writes dillo2K10.
"I pulled in to look at my phone, the phone burned from the inside out. Burned through the plastic and melted my case to my phone. The phone kept working but without any signal."
The post was followed by another with several large photos of a device with a brown singe melting the case on the corner about the size of a quarter.
Samsung responded on its official global blog, Samsung Tomorrow.
"There have been recent online posts displaying pictures of a Samsung GALAXY S III that appears to have heat-related damage at the bottom of the device," reads the unsigned post. "Samsung is aware of this issue and will begin investigating as soon as we receive the specific product in question.
"Once the investigation is complete, we will be able to provide further details on the situation. We are committed to providing our customers with the safest products possible and are looking at this seriously."
Incidents of overheating or fires from increasingly powerful electronic devices are rare, but seem to be on the rise. Last October Sony recalled 1.6 million Bravia TV sets that the company said posed a risk of overheating and melting.
The following month Apple, which has been sued over allegedly overheating iPods, called on owners of iPod Nanos sold from September 2005 to December 2006 to exchange them for replacements because of rare instances of overheating. Apple blamed "a single battery supplier that produced batteries with a manufacturing defect" for the issue.
Laptop batteries have also been known to overheat and in 2009 Hewlett-Packard recalled 70,000 lithium ion batteries shipped with some laptop models.
"Lithium batteries are somewhat delicate -- though those currently on the market are considerably better than the products available a few years ago," said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.
"If Samsung's investigation discovers a significant design or production issue -- which will be apparent if it institutes a large product recall -- it could be financially painful. But not as excruciating as hurt consumers and personal injury lawsuits."
Dillo2k10 wrote that a local retailer sent the phone to Samsung without offering a replacement, but later: "Samsung contacted me, the head of customer services came out to see me and gave me a replacement phone. Even said he would send me out some free stuff."
But dillo2k10 added "There is no confirmation that it was a fault with the phone. It may actually have been caused by a combination of my car mount and my car's heating system."
King says the company "is doing everything right-- interaction directly with the company, replacing the damaged phone and doing what it can to make things right."