Does Samsung have an explosive Galaxy S4 problem?

This may be something from nothing, but in the interests of public safety it's probably worth mentioning the possibility Samsung may have attempted to supress information regarding a potentially dangerous quality control problem in the Galaxy S4 range.

Does Samsung have something to hide?

Incendiary report

You see, an under warranty Galaxy S4 smartphone is alleged to have recently caught fire. The owner discussed the matter within a YouTube video. Samsung then allegedly contacted the customer (Text) offering to replace the device, but only on condition the video was taken down and the customer agreed a deal never to discuss the problem in public again.

What makes this unacceptable is that there have been previous reports of exploding Galaxy S4s:

Report one

Report two

For me, the concern is that by demanding confidentiality about the problem from the YouTube video creator, Samsung's actions suggest it may have made similar arrangements to suppress reports of exploding handsets. We would not know about such incidents because customers would have agreed to remain silent. This is bad.

I am worried because if it is true Samsung has attempted to silence one report claiming a Galaxy S4 has exploded, then is it possible it has succeeded in suppressing other reports? If it has, then are consumers at risk?

Raising doubt

You see, if other customers have indeed experienced such problems and agreed to be silent about them in order to get replacement or compensation from the company, then there's the very real concern Samsung may be aware of a problem in its devices that it is not warning consumers about.

Smartphones include Lithium-ion batteries. When these explode they can cause severe danger to life and limb.

It is reasonable to speculate Samsung's alleged attempt to silence discussion in this one instance could hint it is aware of other such instances that we have not been told about.

I'm not saying Samsung's S4 devices are prone to such problems -- I have no idea if this is true -- just pointing out that this is not the first time one of these devices has been reported as blowing up. With this in mind Samsung's alleged attempt to impose silence on an affected customer could suggest the risk may be wider than believed.


Samsung isn't the only company to be affected by such problems. All smartphones from all vendors can experience such faults. The difference is that device manufacturers usually move -- fast -- to investigate the problem, replace the handset quibble-free and make public statements in the event they find production faults.

Two relatively recent faults caused explosions in Apple products, one an iPad in Australia, the other an iPhone in China. In both cases Apple publicly confirmed itself to be investigating the problem. It did not attempt to silence these reports.

In a similar incident, reports claiming some third party Apple iPhone chargers were dangerous prompted Apple to launch an Adaptor Replacement scheme in which it encouraged device users with third party adaptors to claim discounted ($10) replacements from Apple.

The allegation Samsung has attempted to supress a customer reporting such a fault is of concern because it raises the possibility the company is aware of a wider problem which it is not discussing.

If it is aware of such a problem it seems logical the company should make a public statement on the matter pending a full and public investigation. In the event it does not do this, then consumer rights watchdogs may be forced to investigate the matter in order to protect consumers.

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Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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