Exploding Phone Update: Is It Safe Yet To Fly with a Galaxy Note 7?
The U.S. Department of Transportation announced yesterday that it has rescinded its requirement that airlines make specific announcements regarding the dangers of flying with the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 prior to boarding. But despite the department’s decision to end the announcement requirement, the device is still banned from all U.S. flights, according to a statement released yesterday by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Nevertheless, the announcement, which brings an end to the requirement that has been in place since October, comes as a welcome development for both Samsung and Galaxy Note 7 owners.
The Department of Transportation initiated the announcement requirement at the same time that the FAA banned the devices from both passenger carry-on and checked luggage following reports that the devices were spontaneously exploding, sometimes while in flight.
Blame the Batteries
Shortly after the Note 7 launched last summer, owners began complaining that the batteries in their phones would either catch fire or explode. Samsung was forced to initiate a product recall in September, and even took the unusual measure of asking all Note 7 owners to immediately power down their devices and exchange them for replacement units.
The problem with the phone stemmed from a faulty battery that had a tendency to overheat. In some cases, the batteries exploded, injuring consumers. The fault was eventually attributed to a problem in the phone's lithium-ion battery, one which the company said affected an estimated 2.5 million units.
"Lithium-ion batteries pack a lot of power into a small package. When these batteries overheat and burst, the results can be serious. This is why the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is urging all consumers who own a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 to power them down and stop charging or using the device,” the CPSC said in a statement issued in September.
Most Note 7s Now Off the Market
The crisis generated both embarrassing headlines for the company, along with a costly recall as it struggled to get the potentially dangerous devices out of consumers' hands as quickly as possible.
It now appears that Samsung has succeeded in removing the vast majority of affected devices from circulation as an estimated 96 percent of the units that had been flagged as vulnerable have been returned.
Initially, the company offered to replace the faulty models with a new version of the same model. But in December, Samsung expanded the recall program by offering to replace every Note 7, including the replacement models, with different phones or provide consumers with refunds. The company’s success rate in replacing those units led the Department of Transportation to cancel its notification requirement.
"Together with our wireless carriers, we have taken aggressive action to limit the remaining phones' ability to work as mobile devices, further enhancing participation in the recall," the company said in a statement yesterday. Consumers who still own Note 7s are urged to return them for refunds or different models.
Image credit: Product shot by Samsung/Artist's concept.