Most brand new and extremely popular consumer electronics or smartphones have flaws, either real or rumored. Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) had an antenna problem with one of its early iPhone models. Steve Jobs had to defend the quality of the product in public and offer a modest repair. Any number of new phones, game consoles and smartphones are believed to have problems with overheating batteries or electronic components, although on close inspection many are never found.
The launch of the Samsung’s Galaxy S III smartphone is among the most anticipated of its kind since the most recent iPhone release. The handset has been released in Europe and will be available from all four major U.S. wireless carriers next week. Just as Americans get ready to take delivery of their Galaxy S III handsets, there is word from Ireland of an “exploding” phone.
On a message board used by Irish consumers was the following post:
So I 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. 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 writer adds that the phone also could have set fire to his bed, presumably with him in it.
But, according to Reuters, that was not the end of the Galaxy owner’s comments:
There’s no confirmation 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.
Maybe the problem never happened at all. Maybe the entire incident was part of a dream, and when the Galaxy owner woke up, his phone was fine. Perhaps he only dreamed he had a Galaxy S III and woke up to discover that he does not have a cellphone at all but has to use a landline for all of his calls.
The Reuters story will be seen by hundreds of thousands of people and then circulated via the Internet to millions more. Samsung will launch an investigation. Probably nothing of substance will be found. Or, the South Korean electronics giant will uncover a flaw that makes all Galaxy S III models explode. If the latter is the case, who knows how many people will be burned beyond recognition or die.
Douglas A. McIntyre