Catching Fire: Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Batteries

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Kayli Walker
Staff Writer

The release of a new smartphone is exciting news for many consumers. Eager customers are thinking about all the latest features on the device, and the last thing on their minds is that their new phones could put them at a serious risk.

Unfortunately, this is the case with the Samsung Galaxy Note 7. The phone’s batteries have reportedly been spontaneously combusting with no warning. As a result, Samsung has initiated a recall of the potentially dangerous devices, but not before many users experienced dangerous situations due to the problematic new mobile devices.

Like many rechargeable batteries in our electronic devices, the battery in the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 contains lithium. According to Forbes, this is linked to the spontaneous combustion because “what makes these batteries great at powering gadgets also makes them vulnerable to catching fire.” The article cites the fact that the batteries combust when charged to high levels of power. Although lithium-ion cells are commonly used and are great for creating rechargeable batteries, they can have adverse effects that create a serious danger to users.

Although the lithium-ion cell contains the power and potential to cause the spontaneous combustion, it is not triggered on its own. Overheating, inside or outside the device, can start the issue and cause the device to burst into flames. In addition, according to Forbes, the “battery management system” can often fail to monitor the chip inside the battery. In the case that it is faulty, the chip inside of the battery management system is not able to stop the current inside the battery.

In some cases, the battery becomes so overcharged that it spontaneously combusts. These incidents are not as common in computers because they have cooling mechanisms built into them. Thus, with heat, overcharging and the absence of a cooling system, these devices become susceptible to complications such as spontaneous combustion.

Since the release of the Galaxy Note 7,  Samsung has encountered “92 reports of Note 7 batteries overheating in the U.S. alone, including 26 reports of burns and 55 reports of property damage, including fires in cars and a garage,” according to an article from Digital Trends. Due to the number of reports and the severity of the damage incurred by the phone batteries, Samsung has issued a recall of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7. Thus, users have the option to exchange their phones for new ones that Samsung claims will no longer have this problem.

While Samsung initiated the recall recently, Samsung announced that “about half of all recalled Galaxy Note 7 phones sold in the U.S. have been exchanged through Samsung’s voluntary recall. Previously, on September 20, Samsung had announced that “over 500,000” replacement devices had arrived in stores.

Overall, the damage that the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 batteries has caused for some users cannot be reversed, but Samsung has promptly responded to the situation. Soon enough, users will have replaced the problematic devices with functional ones. For Samsung’s sake, this may finally put the controversy to rest.