A replacement – and supposedly non-exploding – Samsung Galaxy Note 7 caught fire on a crowded aircraft today, we're told.
Passengers on Southwest Airlines Flight 994 headed for the exits after a Galaxy Note 7 went into meltdown minutes before takeoff. The handset, owned by Brian Green of New Albany, Indiana, caught fire and filled the cabin with smoke around 9.15am. The plane was ready to depart from Louisville International Airport, and was heading to Baltimore, in the US.
"He said he had just powered it down, when it made a popping noise and started smoking. He took it out of his pocket and threw it on the ground," Sarah said. "I did not believe him at first, but I'm just glad he's OK. I would love to know why the replacement phone is doing what the other one was doing."
Samsung's PR team are skeptical that today's exploding handset was a replacement device. "There is no evidence that this incident is related to the new Note 7. We are working with the authorities and Southwest now to recover the device and confirm the cause," the Android phone maker said in a statement.
Samsung PR right now pic.twitter.com/siIlUOkKXM— The Register (@TheRegister) October 5, 2016
Apple, Google right now pic.twitter.com/DE92OjXe2t— The Register (@TheRegister) October 5, 2016
No one was hurt after Green's phone did a mini-log-fire impression. The cabin crew made sure all 75 people onboard got off the plane safely and the airline rebooked passengers' flights. Southwest told The Reg that the aircraft is temporarily out of service for a thorough inspection, although we understand it suffered minimal damage – basically, burns to the carpet and the underlying material.
"A customer reported smoke emitting from an electronic device. Initial reports indicate the device was a Samsung," an airline representative said, although they declined to name the model.
"We have smoke in the cabin, could you send emergency equipment over here?" one of the flight's pilots told the control tower over the radio when the phone sparked up.
Only last week, Samsung was toasting the success of its Galaxy Note 7 replacement program. Over 90 per cent of customers chose to do a straight swap for another Note 7, said DJ Koh, president of mobile communications business for Samsung, adding that more than 60 per cent of phones had now been replaced in the US.
"We are humbled by our customers' loyalty to the Galaxy Note7 device," said Koh. "This is why we want them to take advantage of their local replacement program so that they can continue to feel confident and excited every time they reach for their Galaxy Note7 device."
If the Greens are correct, and the phone was a replacement model, then the South Koreans are in serious trouble. To have one exploding phone model is embarrassing, but to have two is an incredibly grave problem. ®