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Samsung Galaxy Note 7 battery issue gets out of hand

[THE INVESTOR] Tech giant Samsung Electronics has found itself dragged back into a new round of controversy for its Galaxy Note 7 as a series of alleged explosion cases involving the replaced smartphone have taken place in recent weeks.

An overheated Samsung handset emitted smoke, prompting passengers and flight crew to evacuate a Southwest Airlines plane in Louisville, which was at the time preparing to depart for Baltimore, according to news reports on Oct. 6.

A total of 75 passengers and crew were reportedly onboard and there was minor damage to the plane’s carpet due to the problematic phone.

Samsung Electronics’ mobile chief Koh Dong-jin
Samsung Electronics’ mobile chief Koh Dong-jin

The smartphone belonging to a passenger, named Brian, is said to be what Samsung calls a “safe” replacement Galaxy Note 7, which he had received through the firm’s recall program underway worldwide.

His wife Sarah Green was quoted by news media as saying that her husband told her his Note 7 “made a popping noise and started emitting smoke,” and he had to turn it off.

In South Korea, an explosion case involving a replacement Note 7 was reported on Oct. 2, but Samsung has announced that a series of tests, in-house and by test labs including SGS, showed the explosion was due to external impact on the handset, not a technical issue.

The explosive battery issue snowballed into a major controversy worldwide after it was first reported on Aug. 24 in Korea.

Samsung launched an unprecedented recall program from Sept. 19, through which it will have to exchange 2.5 million handset units shipped and sold already.

The latest incident involving the Note 7 will likely add fuel to fire for Samsung.

“Samsung will not only lose its reputation and consumer trust if the explosion case of the replaced model turns out to be true, but it will also have to scrap the Note brand entirely due to the damaged brand image,” said a market watcher who wished to be unnamed.

By Kim Young-won (