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Samsung's Firestorm Could Be Spreading to the Galaxy S7 Edge

By Evan Niu, CFA – Oct 25, 2016 at 4:14PM

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How many references to fire can fit in this article?

One of these phones might be safe. Can you tell which one? Image source: Samsung.

You've probably heard by now that Samsung's (NASDAQOTH: SSNLF) Galaxy Note 7 has been too hot to handle, in the most literal sense. Following widespread reports of the phablet spontaneously catching fire, Samsung promptly -- and, it came to be clear, prematurely -- recalled 2.5 million units of the Galaxy Note 7, only to watch its initial hypothesis of why they were combusting crash and burn.

That led to replacement phones also catching fire, and the South Korean conglomerate subsequently axed the device once and for all. Anyone who has been to an airport recently has probably seen the numerous large signs advising people that the device is banned on all U.S. flights due to safety concerns (even if it's turned off).

Brand inferno

Another particular challenge for Samsung has been to contain the brand conflagration, since its flagship devices all bear similar model names. There's the Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 Edge, and Galaxy Note 7, and those are just the main flagships; there are plenty of other handsets under the Galaxy umbrella.

The last thing that Samsung wants is for customers to avoid the Galaxy S7 or Galaxy S7 Edge for fear that those devices would catch fire as well, particularly as those are the two remaining phones that Samsung is actively trying to steer former Note 7 buyers toward. As it turns out, perhaps those fears wouldn't be misplaced after all.

A hot mess

We're now seeing fresh reports that there have been at least two new cases of Galaxy S7 Edge phones catching fire.

Android Headlines reports that a man in Canada was driving home from work when his Galaxy S7 Edge caught fire. The man noticed the smoke coming from his phone and promptly threw it out of his car window. He then covered the phone in snow in an effort to put out the fire. Phone Arena tells the story of a customer who had received a Galaxy S7 Edge as a replacement for his Galaxy Note 7, but the new phone caught fire while charging overnight with the first-party charger. I doubt he'll be buying another Samsung phone anytime soon.

These aren't even the only instances that have been reported; this is just the past week. There was another in Ohio, one in China, and one in the Philippines -- all in September. Yet, even after a handful of instances, there haven't been as many incendiary headlines around the S7 Edge. Most of the media firestorm is being focused on the Note 7.

Sammy needs to figure this out

All fire jokes aside, Samsung needs to get to the bottom of this. Beyond consumer safety concerns, the most perplexing aspect of this whole ordeal is that Samsung is still unable to reproduce the problems and can't isolate the technical problem. The only thing more troubling than making phones that combust is the possibility of inadvertently making even more of them in the future.

Evan Niu, CFA has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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