Not the sort of hot news Samsung wants: Galaxy S3 catches fire

By Lee Kaelin on June 21, 2012, 10:00 AM

Update: dillo2k10 has informed TechSpot that Samsung's head of customer service personally visited him with a replacement Galaxy S3. He also said there was no confirmation the handset was faulty and it could have been caused by a combination of the car's heater and the car mount it sat in at the time.

There is no denying that Samsung's latest flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S3, is red hot property right now. But unfortunately the news are the wrong sort of hot for Samsung this morning after one owner whose new prized possession got a little too hot and actually caught fire.

Boards.ie forum user dillo2k10 from Dublin, Ireland reported yesterday that his new smartphone, purchased from UK retailer Carphone Warehouse caught fire while being used as a sat nav in his in-car holster.

"So I [was] driving along today with my Galaxy S3 in my car mount when suddenly a white flame sparks and a bang came out of the phone," he said on the Irish forum. "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."

He further commented that the fire had destroyed his phone, and even left some burnt plastic on the interior of his car. The unlucky owner took it back to the store and was promptly informed that it would need to be sent off for further investigation. Frustratingly however, the store refused to give him a replacement leaving him unsure whether the damage is covered under warranty.

Despite over nine million pre-orders, with huge volumes already shipped and in the hands of consumers, this is the first documented incident of the smartphone overheating or catching fire. As such, it's currently unknown if this is an isolated incident, or a manufacturing defect affecting the phone in general.

Samsung was quick to respond to the incident, posting a brief statement this morning on its official global blog "Samsung Tomorrow" promising a thorough investigation as soon as the faulty phone arrives.

There have been recent online posts displaying pictures of a Samsung GALAXY SIII that appears to have heat-related damage at the bottom of the device. 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.




User Comments: 14

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H3llion H3llion, TechSpot Paladin, said:

The first time it has happened?

gcarter gcarter said:

Probably a chancer who dropped his fag on it and claimed it "It burst into flames"... probably drunk on too much Guinness at the time as well!

Arris Arris said:

Makes the $25 apple power adapters seem a bit more worth their cost. Might have been damage from a dodgy cheap and nasty car cigarette lighter USB connector.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Makes the $25 apple power adapters seem a bit more worth their cost. Might have been damage from a dodgy cheap and nasty car cigarette lighter USB connector.

That's the one thing I was thinking too. People spend several hundred dollars on a phone, then go and find the cheapest adapter.

But just like the exploding iPhone, with millions of phones out there, even a failure rate of 1 in a million will eventually cause a problem.

Guest said:

these are electronic devices with electricity flowing through them, they are not immune to the odd defect. This is not a big deal, bad yes, but not big.

peperonikiller peperonikiller said:

So there was only this one case of it catching fire, and apparently it's important enough to make it on techspot, really?

I can imagine posting about this if it were multiple devices, but just one? Please stop turning into my local news website and post stuff like this. Next thing you know techspot main story: "Man buys charger cable but it fails"

Ranger1st Ranger1st said:

I've noticed allot of that recently, less news that is actual news and more.. crap. It's turning slwly into TMZ. PhysOrg is becoming my go to for tech/Sci. news now..

So there was only this one case of it catching fire, and apparently it's important enough to make it on techspot, really?

I can imagine posting about this if it were multiple devices, but just one? Please stop turning into my local news website and post stuff like this. Next thing you know techspot main story: "Man buys charger cable but it fails"

Guest said:

Update:

After receiving no help from the Carphone Warehouse. 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.

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 cars heating system.

Just delighted to have my Galaxy back

Photos of the damage are further down.

Last edited by dillo2k10; Today at 16:16.

Leeky Leeky said:

@Peperonikiller,

Would you still be saying the same thing if it did turn out to be an issue affecting other handsets?

It might turn out to be an isolated incident, and as a SGS3 owner myself I do hope that's the case, but it was serious enough for Samsung to issue a statement within hours of the owners post going live, so aye, I'd say it is worthy of news coverage.

It might not be breaking news on the level of the aforementioned handsets launch, but it's still news and TechSpot is far from alone in also covering it.

EDIT re: dillo2k10's reply while I was creating this post.

I'm glad Samsung sorted a replacement out for you. Sounds like they gave you top quality service actually, shame Carphone Warehouse weren't as accommodating at the time.

Was the cars heater blowing hot air on the craddle at the time then?

Thank you for taking the time to update us though. I'll update the article shortly.

Guest said:

Now we can say that Samsung galaxy SIII is designed for FIREMEN

LOL

Guest said:

I adoubt how it passed the UL regulation.

Even $10 device won't happen.

Guest said:

Every device with li-ion or li-po etc battery cell has a charger controller IC to look after that cell, such as the MCP73864, (google it for the datasheet) so it really doesn't matter whether you give it an ultra-well-regulated power supply or a a really noisy one with loads of ripple. So long as the psu is regulated, it is up to the charge controller to then look after the battery. There's really no need to spend silly amounts on a psu unless you get an extra warranty or some other benefit.

However, you do have to pay attention to the environment - heat and humidity especially. These devices have to flow considerable current for a small IC so heat is a real problem. If the cell has a defect too, then this will increase the need for heat dissipation further - and possibly beyond the design's limits.

The question is, was the cell faulty, and will there be a recall ?

veLa veLa said:

I have a Galaxy S2, I think I'll hold out until the S4 or maybe S5

TJGeezer said:

Parts fail - always have, always will. Samsung's immediate response was impressive, for a corporation that size. But I wouldn't buy products from Carphone Warehouse. Really - a global manufacturer cares more about its customers than the retailer does? That reveals a lot about both companies, at least from a consumer's perspective.

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