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Samsung Note9 battery catching fire claim in New York Featured

Is it real? Is it a hoax? It's hard to tell, because I can't find the source lawsuit claimed online, but a single report of a Note9 battery catching fire has emerged.

If a Samsung Galaxy Note9 battery truly has spontaneously caught fire, as claimed in a New York Post article entitled "Woman says Galaxy Note 9 burst into flames inside her purse", the the question is whether this is a very unfortunate isolated incident or not.

The woman is listed as Diane Chung, a real estate agent, who is said to have a lawsuit against Samsung in the Queens Supreme Court, but assuming I have the right court, a search of their site brings up no lawsuit by Diane Chung against Samsung that I could find.

BGR is the news site that mentions the Queens Supreme Court, but it too has no link to the court or the lawsuit in question. 

In the NY Post story, which you should read for yourself, Chung was using her phone in a lift when it became very hot, at which point she put it into her handbag, after which it spontaneously caught fire with a whistling and screeching noise, damaging the phone, the purse and its contents, with "thick black smoke" emerging from said purse.

She is said to have put the purchase down, burning her fingers, filling the lift wth smoke and causing her to be "extremely panicked". She kicked the purse out of the lift when the doors opened at the lobby level, which caused her "trauma", which is understandable.

The phone reportedly had to be put into a bucket of water, which a "good Samaritan" did.

Obviously, if this is a repeat of the Note7 battery issue, then it would be an absolute disaster for Samsung, but equally obviously, it is far too early to say any such thing with certainty, and the chances are very, very high this is a very isolated incident.

After all, when millions up millions of phones are manufactured, there is a possibility, however slight, of something going wrong somewhere in an individual phone battery.

Even Apple has faced similar issues in the past, as you can see here with an iPhone 7 Plus, more claims in late 2016 from China here, an iPhone 8 Plus claim here, and even an iPhone 7 here on a Sydney beach in a parked car

Those events were spread far and wide apart, and clearly did not affect Apple or its iPhones in any kind of widespread way, being truly very isolated incidents.

However, as everyone knows, Samsung's Note7 battery issue was real enough that the phone was recalled twice and then discontinued entirely, with the NY Post quoting Samsung co-chief executive Koh Dong-jin as stating: "The battery in the Galaxy Note9 is safer than ever. Users do not have to worry about the batteries anymore", while then quoting "another Samsung exec, Kate Beaumont, director of product planning as stating the company now had a multi-step "battery safety check" in place and the Note9s would “absolutely not” catch fire.

So, whether this is a real issue or an isolated incident is yet to be seen, but it is likely to be an isolated incident that won't be repeated.

If it is repeated it will be global news very fast, but given Samsung's Note7 experience and no problems with the Note8, it just seems incredibly unlikely the Note range would face catastrophic battery problems again, even though it seemed incredibly unlikely Note7s would have suffered problems in the first place.

We'll have more in the unlikely event more develops, but until then, this clearly isn't the surprise launch Samsung has planned for 11 October, and as Douglas Adams would say, don't panic!


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.


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