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Samsung Phones Are Literally Burning Holes In People’s Pockets

It seemed like such a great launch. Fancy ads with a few Super Bowl spots, a long list of things the Samsung Galaxy 7 could do that the iPhone 6 couldn’t, a virtual reality mode, an official IP-code rating that said the phone was dustproof and highly water resistant, a long battery life, a kitchen sink, and a partridge in a pear tree. It was the next generation of technology, and it was more next-generation than usual.

However, there is a price to pay when it comes to pushing the envelope: the envelope pushes back. That phrase, “pushing the envelope,” came to be an idiom thanks to the test pilots and aeronautics engineers of the mid-20th century. It originally referred to flight envelopes: the highest, lowest, fastest, and slowest you could safely go without running into some serious problems. To push the envelope was to push the plane to its limits, to find out whether the engineers on the ground were right about their figures or whether you could go beyond your limits and set a new record.

Samsung’s Explosive Problem

Heat is always a problem with electronics. Everything that uses energy generates a certain amount of waste heat, and the more energy you use, the more heat you’ll create. Every living, moving creature creates heat, and every electronic device ever created needs a way to dump the heat that comes from the flow of electrons.

Heat is especially hard to dump for something that needs to be as thin and small as a smartphone (and cool enough to hold in your hand for extended periods). Most mobile phones had this issue ironed out, but in early September, reports started coming in about Galaxy Note 7 smartphones spontaneously bursting into flames and completely burning out. Why? The jury’s still out on that one.

The Too-Rapid Response

When reports of exploding smartphones started to become consistent, Samsung investigated the problem. One of the first scans they performed showed that the batteries created by a particular subcontractor came with an unusual bulge. The company didn’t investigate further, but then it seemed like they wouldn’t have to. High-tech batteries have a reputation for catching on fire when they aren’t made right, so it seemed like the obvious culprit. So Samsung issued a recall to replace the apparently defective batteries.

Unfortunately, Samsung’s speedy action may have undermined its reputation instead of strengthening it. Not long after the recall began, one of the replacement phones caught fire on a plane. So instead of coming off like experts for quickly locating and fixing the problem, Samsung has outed itself as a company that cares more for fast results than for the right ones.

The Fallout

Because of this failed recall, Samsung has decided to effectively kill the Galaxy Note 7 by ending production and by starting a complete recall of every model sold in the United States. And to add insult to injury, Apple has begun marketing its iPhone 7, a phone with a lot of the same features and a much smaller chance of bursting into flames.

Samsung’s liability might not end with a recall, either. A modern smartphone can hold a lot of irreplaceable information: passwords, contact lists, calendar information, messages, chat and text logs, and so on. Seeing your phone explode might leave you better off than if someone stole your phone, but consumer goods come with guarantees both implied and explicit that the product will work as intended and not, for instance, burst into flames.

If one of these phone fires happened to you, you may be entitled to more than just a full refund. You may be able to claim additional damages for lost data, lost work productivity, and both physical injuries and damage to property caused by the flames. If any of these situations apply to you, you should contact a local personal injury law firm in order to nail down a number to ask for and to add a little extra weight to the argument that you deserve full compensation for the accident.