Samsung’s smartphones are among the most desirable handsets in the world. The company’s flagship Galaxy series have sold millions of units the world over, and both hardware and software have received extensive critical acclaim.
But not every Samsung launch has been perfect. Back in 2016, the highly anticipated Samsung Galaxy Note 7 shipped a number of faulty units that burst into flames without warning — prompting their swift removal from storefronts everywhere. Tap or click here to see what happened with the Galaxy Note 7.
And now, more than four years later, another Samsung handset appears to be getting too hot to handle — literally! One man in California was shocked to see his new phone produce black smoke and sparks. Soon enough, the phone completely melted, prompting fear of another recall. If you own this model of phone, should you be concerned?
Samsung A20e bursts into flames, prompts questions
Kenji Yanase of Montgomery Creek, California received the shock of his life when his Samsung A20e caught fire after mysteriously shutting down. Previously, the phone had no history of unusual behavior or performance, but a closer inspection of the phone’s internals led to a firey conclusion: The battery appeared to have overheated.
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Here’s how it happened: After Mr. Yanase’s screen went dark, he decided to open his phone and see what was going on. While he was holding the device, sparks suddenly began to shoot out of the phone along with hot flames. In a panic, he threw the melting phone into a pan and dumped water from his dog’s bowl to stifle the fire.
He immediately took the phone outside, but by then, the phone was unsalvagable. Meanwhile, toxic-smelling black smoke filled his home and yard. It took covering the pan with a lid and letting the flames peter out for the smoke to eventually stop. In the aftermath, Mr. Yanase was left with nothing more than a charred shell.
Since the incident, Mr. Yanase says he will never buy another Samsung phone again. Speaking to “The Daily Mail,” he said that he has PTSD from a house fire in his youth, and would prefer not to relive the experience a third time.
Samsung did not return comments to Daily Mail, but the company did receive Mr. Yanase’s destroyed phone to investigate further. Whether this spontaneous combustion is a widespread issue remains unknown.
What should I do if my phone catches fire?
Whether you have a Samsung A20e or not, a burning phone is no laughing matter. In almost every case, a smartphone fire is what would be classified as a “runaway thermal event,” which is when the phone overheats to the point where combustion occurs.
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This most commonly occurs under hot temperatures (both indoors and outdoors,) but the issue can also point to problems within the handset’s design itself. In almost every circumstance, the part of the phone that burns is the chemically reactive lithium-ion battery — which also produces noxious fumes that can cause headaches and nausea.
If your phone catches fire, follow these steps to protect yourself and your home from disaster:
- Isolate the phone: At the first sign of intense heat, follow Mr. Yanase’s lead and drop the phone in a heat-proof container like a pot or pan. Then, isolate the phone in an area free of flammable material. A concrete driveway, for example, would work as long as it’s far enough away from your house, lawn or car. If the phone heats up in your pocket, remove your pants. Do not handle the phone.
- Douse the flames: If a fire extinguisher is available, use it to put out the fire. If no extinguishers are within reach, you may have to rely on cold water. Pour slowly and maximize the water’s contact with the phone. Excessive heat may cause the glass to splinter and explode, so be cautious of any sudden changes to the phone’s appearance. Wear glasses or eye protection if possible.
- Let the fire sputter out: Now that you’ve successfully isolated the phone and managed the flames, let the phone finish its thermal event. Once all the lithium-ion fuel is consumed, the fire will stop. This usually happens in a matter of minutes.
If you want to feel extra peace of mind, you may want to contact the fire department as well. Fire safety is no laughing matter.
As much as we trust our phones to deliver us comfort and convenience, the reality is that these are still machines that are capable of failing. If we forget to back up our data or take precautions with the content we store on them, all it takes is one thermal event to lose everything. Tap or click here to see the expert ways to back up your data.