Samsung Galaxy S III Reportedly Explodes in Car, Investigation Underway

A Samsung Galaxy S III owner in Dublin told sympathizers on a chat board that his smartphone exploded in his car although he avoided serious injury. Samsung, which gave him a replacement, is investigating.

Samsung no doubt thinks its Galaxy S III smartphone is red hot and ready to smoke the competition, but a user in Dublin has experienced something else entirely. His Galaxy S III, he wrote on a chat board June 20, exploded while docked in his car.

€œI was driving along €¦ when suddenly a white flame, sparks and a bang came out of the phone,€ the Samsung owner wrote, using the handle dillo2k10. An included link to a Facebook page says he€™s a university student named Dylan Kershaw. He added that the phone burned from the inside out and €œburned through the plastic and melted my case to my phone. The phone kept working but without any signal.€

A photo posted to the site shows a phone with some sort of serious, but not externally extensive, fire damage.

The Irish student added that he brought the phone to Carphone Warehouse€”a popular phone seller, where he was told the matter would need to be looked into.

€œ[They didn€™t even give me a] replacement phone, left with nothing,€ he wrote. €œThe phone was destroyed and it slightly burned a piece of plastic on the inside of my car. €¦ Probably nothing I can do, but I€™m really annoyed. That could have burned the side of my face or through my pocket and my leg, or set fire to my bed. It€™s very dangerous.€

Samsung, recognizing a potential public relations nightmare when it hears one, hurried to pay the lad a visit.

€œThe head of customer services came out to see me and gave me a replacement phone. Even said he would send me out some free stuff,€ dillo2k10 wrote in an update to the post.

Samsung acknowledged on its Samsung Tomorrow site that it is looking into the matter. It said in a June 21 blog post:

"There have been recent online posts displaying pictures of a Samsung GALAXY SIII that appears to have heat-related damage at the bottom of the device. Samsung is aware of this issue and will begin investigating as soon as we receive the specific product in question.Once the investigation is complete, we will be able to provide further details on the situation. We are committed to providing our customers with the safest products possible and are looking at this seriously."

Apple, over the years, has dealt with similar incidents. Or perhaps mostly let the smoke clear. In 2009, it denied that instances of exploding iPhone 3GS handsets were its fault. €œThe iPhones with broken glass that we have analysed to date show that in all cases the glass cracked due to an external force that was applied to the iPhone," a spokesperson told the BBC News.

In late 2011, two reports emerged within a week of iPhone 4 smartphones exploding, one in a man€™s home in Brazil and another on a flight headed for Sydney. It€™s unclear whether Apple responded or made a statement, though in the latter instance the Australian Transport Safety Bureau said it was €œinvestigating.€

While trying out two Galaxy S III phones to review, an eWEEK reviewer did find that the smartphone became warm around its bottom half€”an annoyance on a warm day but by no means a danger.

The Galaxy S III is now available in the United States from T-Mobile and Sprint. In the coming weeks, it will also be offered by Verizon Wireless, AT&T and US Cellular.

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