I have to admit, I’m not sure where I stand on the whole Samsung phone blowing up issue, and I don’t want to make this sound like a debate, but to be honest, there are going to be a lot of “buts” in this article. This is not a cut and dried issue, not even slightly. If you haven’t been paying attention to life for the past few weeks, you may not be familiar with Samsung’s plight of late. It seems, Samsung phones have started to blow up – most often when charging, but sometimes, not when charging.
This all started with the Note 7 and several (read: 35) reports of the battery catching on fire while charging. The situation got serious enough that Samsung had to start making arrangements for people who had bought its most recent flagship. Initially, Samsung offered a trade of a GS7 or GS7 Edge phone in exchange for a Note 7 which may or may not malfunction. That quickly degenerated into a full recall of the phones and replacements to be shipped.
But it didn’t stop there. Soon government agencies were issuing travel bans on the Note 7, and the darn things just kept catching on fire. Then, things got worse. Other phones started catching fire – S7’s, plus other phones not even in the Galaxy line. Kids were getting burned and cars were setting on fire. It’s basically the first season of Fear the Walking Dead, starring Samsung. And all of this started happening after I argued that Samsung might be doing the right thing.
So, the big question is, do I change my stance? Well, that’s not an easy question. The thing is, the Note 7 fires are a huge story, because they come from a popular line of phones from the most popular OEM in the world. And in the midst of all these stories, other stories start to emerge about other phones from other product lines also catching on fire. At first they were reported because people thought they were the Note, but then it turned out that they weren’t Notes which makes it even worse.
Is any Samsung safe?!?!
If that hasn’t been a headline yet, that would be shocking to me. Of course Samsungs are safe. And this is coming from a guy whose S6 Active set a cable on fire last year. The problem is that we media folks, we love our sensational headlines. Look at the headline of this article – guilty. It’s really easy to fall too far into the “if it bleeds, it leads” mind set when it comes to something like this.
But it’s also important to keep perspective on the whole thing. Samsung ships millions and millions of phones every year from dozens of series. Odds are, some of them are going to malfunction. In the case of the Note 7, those odds are higher than most – unacceptably high for that matter. Which is why Samsung issued a recall. But for other phones, it’s just chance that’s causing these phones to fail.
In what universe…
Think of it this way – and this may be my sci-fi geek flag waving – the multiverse theory states that for every possible outcome of every possible choice, there is a universe in which that has actually happened. Thus, there are millions of universes out there and in them every possibility has happened. So there is a universe somewhere where I have dated Charlize Theron, but don’t be jealous, because so have you. In the millions and millions of universes out there, there is one in which I have brought Charlize home to my parents on Christmas Eve. Similarly, there is probably a universe out there, where this last paragraph made perfect sense. But let’s not dwell.
The point I’m trying to make in an arguably terrible way, is that of the millions and millions of Samsung phones in the world, there’s an equal chance to a battery blowing up as there is to me taking Charlize on a date to Burger King. So should the media be stalking me on the off chance I start dating Charlize? No. Should you worry that your Samsung phone will blow up? No. Unless it’s a Note 7, in which case return that thing pronto.
Focus on the successes
What I’m (still poorly) trying to say is that Samsung looks completely awful in this scenario, but that’s because people’s attentions are focused on the one failure, instead of the millions and millions of “not-failures”. When it comes down to it, I won’t be buying a Note 7, which is a shame because it’s a darn fine phone aside from the whole blowing up thing. But at the same time, I won’t hesitate to pick up future Samsung phones, nor will I be afraid to (wirelessly) charge the S6 Active and take it out for a nice day of boating this afternoon. It won’t catch on fire.
So, I guess what I’m saying is, this Samsung Note 7 situation is bad. Really bad. But it’s important that we don’t riot in the streets over what is still a pretty small percentage of blowing up phones. Just follow Samsung’s advice and exchange your phone. Or return it as is your prerogative. But don’t let this series of incidents sully the entire Samsung brand. Unless this happens again with the Galaxy S8. Then, it’s Naked Gun face-palm time.