Firstly, searching through our news archives for these stories was a bit of a nightmare, as popping in “fire” returned a billion Amazon Kindle Fire-related articles. Dear devs, can we get some Boolean operators up in da hizzouse? Thanks.
Anyway, yes, earlier this afternoon I was saying that a Samsung Galaxy Note battery had reportedly caught fire, leaving a South Korean gentleman with a massive (ahem) one-inch burn. As such, I figured I’d take a moment to recount similar tales from the past few years.
Now, as Jan will tell you, it’s not uncommon for batteries to get a bit hot and bothered under the right – or perhaps more accurately wrong – conditions.
Also, considering the frankly outrageous number of smartphones out there (not to mention other lithium-ion devices), a little collateral damage is surely acceptable. And hey, chicks dig scars, so that guy with the Samsung Galaxy Note is pretty much guaranteed to pull.
So we’re agreed; it’s okay to laugh at these stories? Good. Let’s rock!
This one was wiiidely reported, probably because it was associated with the most terrifying (but statistically safe) form of travel, namely flying.
In the worst case, the smoking iPhone 4 could’ve caused a massive fire, sending the plane hurtling towards the earth and ultimately killing hundreds. In reality, the owner threw the iPhone 4 in the aisle and a stewardess discharged a fire extinguisher. Easy!
Interestingly, the story served as a warning against having repairs conducted by unauthorised types.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau bawled: “The technical examinations found that a small metal screw had been misplaced in the battery bay of the mobile telephone; the screw puncturing the battery casing and causing an internal short circuit leading to heating and thermal runaway.
“It was probable that the screw had been misplaced during an earlier repair carried out on the telephone. That repair had not been conducted by an authorised service provider.”
This is easily the most outrageous story, and all thanks to a friend of our Jan over in Irelandshire.
It was initially reported, in mid-June, that some guy was driving along minding his own business, when his presumably possessed Samsung Galaxy S III started spitting white flames – from the comfort of an in-car holster.
Pictures of the Samsung Galaxy S III with melted charging port quickly circulated the cyberwebs, with some (e.g. Jan) proposing that a cheap in-car charger might be to blame.
To Samsung’s credit, the South Korean manufacturer was quick to respond, and promised to get to the bottom of things post haste. And get to the bottom of things it did.
A few weeks later, Fire Investigations UK revealed: “The only way it was possible to produce damage similar to the damage recorded within the owner's damaged device was to place the devices or component parts within a domestic microwave." Incredible!
Jan’s friend later explained: ““I would like to retract my original statement. The damage to the phone was caused by another person, although they were attempting to recover the phone from water this later caused the damage shown on the phone.”
Not to be outdone by the Samsung Galaxy S III incident, the iPhone launched a second assault on humanity just a few short weeks later.
In particular, a Finnish teenager was conveniently recorded leaving a van, just as his iPhone started emitting a fairly significant amount of smoke.
Said teenager walks into the middle of the shot, realises what’s going down then tosses his iPhone on the ground.
We’re reluctant to scream “Fake!” But, y’know, we remain sceptical. I had a quick scout around the webs to see if anything more came of the incident, but… nothing.
And so ends our rundown of smartphones trying to kill people. Here’s to several more years of such attacks.