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Hot Topic NBR Focus: GMO
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US govt issues Note 7 recall amid new reports of burns, property damage

Grief that Samsung doesn't need on iPhone 7 launch day.

Fri, 16 Sep 2016

More bad news for Samsung (and bad timing too, on iPhone 7 launch day): a US government agency has issued a formal recall notice for the Galaxy Note 7.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission notice follows fears that some Note 7 buyers are ignoring Samsung and phone company requests to return the handset — despite the risk that the battery could overheat and cause a fire.

Samsung reported 31 "incidents" as of September 1.

The CPSC notice updates that:

Samsung has received 92 reports of the batteries overheating in the US, including 26 reports of burns and 55 reports of property damage, including fires in cars and a garage.

The CPSC says a Note 7 customer should stop using the phone, power it down, then return it (reflecting Samsung's own advice in the US and New Zealand).

Here, Samsung has advised customers to return their Note 7 to the store where they bought it to organise a replacement or refund, or visit Samsung's website if they purchased online.

The Korean company shipped 2.5 million Note 7 units between its August 19 launch and its September 3 voluntary recall, including more than 50,000 in Australasia.

On September 10, Air New Zealand followed other airlines in banning the use or charging of a Note 7 during flight.

Not just a Samsung problem
Manufacturers from gadget makers to electric car makers have been under pressure to utilise ever-denser lithium-ion batteries as customers demand longer life from hardware but don't want extra weight.

The volatile nature of the lithium ion batteries used by all smartphone manufacturers has led to a number of incidents.

On August 2, a Sydney man was admitted to hospital after his iPhone exploded as he hit the ground after falling off his bike, causing his pants to catch fire.

In 2010, a Christchurch man had his HTC phone go up in flames after running "insanely hot".

And in 2012, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau found an iPhone caught fire on a plane after a screw punctured its battery.

In 2013, the FAA grounded the entire Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet in 2013. Boeing addressed the issue by adding a steel containment box around the batteries.

Lithium-ion battery fires have also struck everything from hoverboards to Sony laptops.

Beyond safety issues, the energy density of today's lithium-ion batteries makes them prone to damage during recharging, or when they overheat.

That's why your smartphone's battery can degrade after 12 to 24 months, and it's typical for a laptop's battery life to halve over the same period.

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US govt issues Note 7 recall amid new reports of burns, property damage
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