Samsung Investigates Exploding Galaxy S III

Max 'Beast from the East' Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope. If you find him looking lost on the streets of London, feed him coffee and sugar.

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No reason to panic… yet

A user in Ireland has reported that his Samsung Galaxy S III suddenly exploded while mounted in a car on Wednesday.

Samsung has replaced the smartphone, and launched an official investigation into these claims, coinciding with the launch of the device in America.

This phone is dynamite

Galaxy S III, Samsung’s flagship device, was announced on 3 May. Two weeks later, the company reported it received nine million pre-orders, almost as many as the number of  Galaxy S II sold in the first six months.

The smartphone was launched in the UK on 30 March, and started shipping to US consumers on Thursday. Earlier this month, Apple attempted to derail the US launch by adding Galaxy S III to the list of products it wanted banned from sale over a patent dispute.

On Wednesday, a user from Dublin reported his device went up in smoke while mounted on a car dashboard. He described the malfunction on the Boards.ie forum, and later added pictures.

“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,” reported the customer with a screen name “dillo2k10”.

“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 explosion originated at the bottom of the phone, next to where the charging slot is located. The flame was so intense it even damaged the plastic of the car.

When the user went to Carphone Warehouse to ask for a replacement, the company said it couldn’t swap the device without sending it off to be checked out first.

“Probably nothing I can do, but I’m really annoyed. That could have burned the side of my face or through my pocket and my leg, or set fire to my bed. It’s very dangerous,” complained the user.

He was later approached by Samsung, which delivered a brand new phone and some free accessories.

By the user’s own account, there is no confirmation that the phone itself caused the explosion. “It may actually have been caused by a combination of my car mount and my cars heating system,” he later wrote.

“There have been recent online posts displaying pictures of a Samsung GALAXY S III that appears to have heat-related damage at the bottom of the device. Samsung is aware of this issue and will begin investigating as soon as we receive the specific product in question,” said a statement on the company’s global blog.

“We are committed to providing our customers with the safest products possible and are looking at this seriously,” concluded the statement.

According to Reuters, this is not the first time Samsung smartphones have overheated. In March, a Korean schoolboy reported that a spare battery for his Galaxy S II blew up in his back pocket. Samsung blamed the explosion on external pressure applied to the battery.

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