Galaxy S4 on charge catches fire as UAE owner sleeps

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Samsung Galaxy 4A proud owner of the new Samsung Galaxy S4 got the fright of her life when she woke up one fine night last month only to find her one-month-old smartphone, which she’d plugged in for charging overnight, “burning” in the middle of the night.

“I cannot explain to you my extreme frustration, disappointment and extreme fear when I found my brand new Samsung Galaxy S4 burning at the charger connection to the phone,” the Abu Dhabi-based Sarah Shurrab, who’d bought the new Galaxy S4 from an Etisalat shop, wrote to Samsung, and emailed a copy of the same to Emirates 24|7.

Sarah is what you’d call an early adopter of the new Galaxy S4 smartphone – she bought the device on May 29, 2013, within one month of the new S4 being available in the UAE. “Sadly, one month later [after she bought the Galaxy S4], the phone was found burning, while charging. It’s only thanks to God that I woke up in the middle of the night and controlled the burning before it could cause damage to my home and family,” she wrote.

“I woke up in the middle of the night to [attend to] my toddler, and it was about 2am at night. I think it was charging for about 3 hours by then,” Sarah told us, and also sent us pictures of the burnt smartphone. We have reproduced some of them for you. While these pictures appear convincing and genuine, there have been reports in the past of people deliberately setting their phones on fire or even microwave them to get some attention.

We’re no experts in the matter, but this doesn’t seem to be a made-up case, and when we got in touch with Samsung Gulf Electronics, they did tell us that they are “conducting a thorough examination to determine the exact cause of this incident”.

But we can imagine Sarah’s plight when she would have woken up to find her cherished possession self-combusting. What made her even more upset was that she was made to run from one dealer to another in her quest for a replacement, and all she was initially offered was the same device, repaired by one of the retailers.

“The [retail] agent said that Samsung never replaces any phone no matter what the fault is, and this is a take it or leave it. There is nothing they can do,” she wrote in the letter. She added that the retailer also refused to replace the Galaxy S4 Flip cover that she’d bought separately, and which also got partly burned with the phone.

However, after Emirates 24|7 contacted Samsung last week with SS’ issue, the matter seemed to have been expedited and according to Sarah, has been “resolved amicably”.

“I believe that your quick contact with Samsung had really escalated matters and made them feel what a serious issue it is. As immediately after you contacted them, they called me again to listen to my concerns and resolve matters amicably,” she wrote back to Emirates 24|7.

“It was agreed that they would replace [my burnt Galaxy S4] with a new phone, the flip cover that got burnt and as compensation, they will give me another brand new Samsung S4, though they don’t have a compensation policy and this is purely as an exception,” she wrote.

We’re happy that we could help our reader in resolving her issue but the bigger question remains: what caused the combustion, and was this a standalone incident?

We asked Samsung Gulf Electronics, and received this emailed statement: “We have gotten hold of the product in question, and will be conducting a thorough examination to determine the exact cause of this incident. We would like to assure our customers that we have always employed strict quality control and safety standards to ensure a safe and pleasant user experience.”

We will let you know as and when Samsung makes us aware of what exactly went wrong. Watch this space.

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