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Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 disaster: what's the latest?

Amid the depressingly familiar horror of US politics this weekend, you might have forgotten all about another disaster that’s been in the news lately — Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 crisis. What started out as a few isolated reports of exploding batteries in late August has continued to gather pace. Samsung initially delayed shipments, then issued a worldwide recall on September 1st, before sending out replacement Note 7 devices that same month. But over the last week there have been multiple reports of replacements catching fire too. Here’s the latest:

What’s the news?

Replacement Note 7 devices that Samsung has sent out to customers are proving to be as unsafe as the originals. Since Thursday there have been a total of (1, 2, 3, 4) five replacement phones catching fire, the latest happening in Texas. To be clear, these are the devices that Samsung claims are safe. They are not.

What is Samsung doing?

The company says it has adjusted its production of the Note 7, but has refused to confirm or deny reports from Korean news agency Yonhap and The New York Times that it has suspended production altogether.

Samsung told The Verge this weekend that it is “working diligently with authorities and third party experts” to fix the problem, but the company is also downplaying the issue, noting that there are only a “limited number” of reported incidents.

What are carriers doing?

Mobile carriers are stopping all sales and replacements of Note 7 devices, including the new devices shipped out by Samsung. In the US, VerizonAT&T, and T-Mobile have all issued statements saying so. Sprint has yet to announce that it has stopped sales altogether, but last week said it would offer customers exchanges on even replacement Note 7 devices.

What are regulators doing?

In the US it’s the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) that’s taking point. Samsung was criticized initially for not working closely enough with the commission when the recall began, but now says it will only take action with regards to replacement devices if it is “approved by the CPSC.”

A spokesperson for the CPSC said on Sunday that it didn’t know if the most recent reports did definitely involve replacement Note 7 devices (though we have seen plenty of evidence showing that they did). “We would like to speak with each customer and assess what happened to their phone,” said CPSC spokesman Scott Wolfson.

What should you be doing?

If you’ve got a Note 7, be it an original or a replacement, you should back up your data and stop using it right now. Head down to your carrier’s nearest store as soon as possible — they’ll give you a new device.

You may tell yourself you’re happy to take your chances, but think about all the places your smartphone will go over the next week: it’ll be in your car, in your pocket, maybe in an airplane or the hands of your children. Now imagine it bursting into flames. It’s not worth the risk.


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