Is it time for all replacement Galaxy Note 7s to be shut down?

Technically Incorrect: A Kentucky customer says his Galaxy Note 7 caught fire in the middle of the night. He also claims he saw a text not meant for him that doesn't show the company in a good light.

Chris Matyszczyk
3 min read
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This doesn't look good.

WKYT-TV screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 was supposed to blaze a trail.

Now it looks as if it's going up in flames. Again and again and again.

And Samsung continues to play down the potential dangers of the replacement Note 7s, the ones it told customers were safe.

The latest incident allegedly happened Tuesday but was only revealed on Saturday.

As WKYT-TV reports, Michael Klering of Nicholasville, Kentucky, was asleep at home with his wife when he says he woke up to find their bedroom full of smoke.

"I look over and my phone is on fire," he said. The phone wasn't even charging.

This was, he said, a newly obtained replacement phone. The original Note 7s had been plagued with incidents of explosion and fire and Samsung had -- belatedly in the view of some -- recalled them all in concert with the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Last week, however, a Southwest flight was evacuated after a replacement Note 7 caught fire. Moreover, on Friday reports emerged of a 13-year-old Minnesota girl, Abby Zuis, being slightly burned while holding a replacement Note 7.

In Klering's case, he said he ended up in hospital after "vomiting black." He was diagnosed with acute bronchitis.

Klering said he contacted Samsung, which wanted him to give it his phone and paid for it to be X-Rayed. He said he then received a text from Samsung that he believes wasn't meant for him.

It read: "Just now got this. I can try and slow him down if we think it will matter, or we just let him do what he keeps threatening to do and see if he does it."

It's not clear what Klering may or may not have been threatening. It seems clearer that Samsung continues to treat each incident as an isolated case.

A Samsung spokeswoman told me of Klering's incident: "We are working diligently with authorities and third party experts and will share findings when we have completed the investigation. Even though there are a limited number of reports, we want to reassure customers that we are taking every report seriously. If we determine a product safety issue exists, Samsung will take immediate steps approved by the CPSC to resolve the situation."

Samsung also told me that, in the case of the Zuis family: "We are doing everything we can for them and their daughter."

Klering was not amused by the text he says he received.

"It made me think you know they're not taking this serious enough and it's time to move on," Klering told WKYT. He says he's now looking for legal representation.

It would be disturbing if Samsung did, indeed, know about this case and not reveal anything about it.

Is it time for all replacement Note 7s to be deemed suspect? The prudent thing to do, it now seems, is for customers to immediately power down all Note 7s.

Moreover, given that all the major US carriers are offering to replace the Note 7 for any phone, it's unsurprising that some speculate that even the replacement phones will have to be recalled.

Indeed, on Sunday AT&T reacted. It suspended exchanges of Note 7s and said it will instead encourage customers to buy another Samsung phone or one from another manufacturer. It appears, then, that the Note 7 is on life support.

Samsung has an enormous problem. One survey performed in late September suggested that 34 percent of Note 7 buyers would never buy a Samsung product again.

But if replacement Note 7s are also explosive, this could have a profound effect on the whole brand.

Just when Samsung had excited so many about a phone, it appears as if quality control might have painfully let it down.

It's one thing to say you take every case seriously. It's another when more and more cases appear to be emerging with phones that Samsung declared unequivocally safe.

Updated 12.22pm: adds information from AT&T