Tony Morgan woke up with a start. A hiss and then a bang had appeared to come from the nightstand in the bedroom of his Eagle home.
“It’s like a gun went off inside,” his wife, Theresa, said.
Tony jumped out of bed, turned on a light and tried to make sense of what woke the couple up at 4:30 a.m. June 25.
“We thought we saw smoke coming from behind the nightstand so I pulled it out and discovered that it was my phone,” said Tony, a software engineer. “The phone was smoldering. I had to grab a towel to remove it because it was also melting and oozing some type of a chemical.”
Never miss a local story.
Tony opened a door leading to the back porch and placed the still-smoldering phone outside. The phone “was oozing black goo. Something came out of the battery, I assume,” he said. “The smell was pretty bad.”
His failing phone was the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge — not the much talked-about Galaxy Note 7 that Samsung pulled off the shelf last September, a month after the model was introduced. A design failure in that phone’s lithium-ion battery caused some Note 7s to overheat and burst into flame.
Samsung Electronics North America, in a written statement to the Idaho Statesman, said it stands behind the quality of the more than 10 million phones sold in the U.S. from its S7 family. Mobile phones are complex devices and many factors could contribute to a malfunction, the statement said.
Before the Morgans went to bed the night of the explosion, Tony had placed his phone on a Samsung wireless charger. He and Theresa had never had a problem with their matching S7 Edges in the year they had owned them.
Hours later, a smoke alarm inside the bedroom began wailing. The explosion scorched the phone’s screen and blew out the back on Tony’s phone. It destroyed the charger and left burn marks on the nightstand.
“We have reached out to Mr. Morgan to retrieve the device and learn more about what happened. Until Samsung is able to obtain and examine any device, it is impossible to determine the true cause of any incident,” Samsung said in the statement to the Statesman.
A third-party company not affiliated with Samsung picked up Tony’s phone on Wednesday, took photos of the phone and the burned nightstand and shipped it to Samsung, which should have received the package on Thursday. Morgan said he was told Samsung would reimburse him the cost of the phone and the charger and pay to remove the burn marks on the nightstand.
With the Note 7, Samsung at first exchanged problem phones for new devices using batteries from a different supplier. After some of those phones also burst into flames because of a manufacturing defect, the South Korean company halted production last October and recalled 2.5 million of them — 1.9 million in the United States alone, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
It turns out that several S7 Edges have similarly overheated. In at least three instances, the owners burned their hands or fingers while handling the phones as they exploded.
In May 2016, construction worker Daniel Ramirez heard a high-pitched whistling sound coming from his pocket, followed by an explosion. Ramirez, a Californian working on a construction site in Akron, Ohio, burned his fingertips trying to remove the phone from his pocket, and his pants melted to his leg, according to Ars Technica, which reports on the technology field.
Ramirez filed a lawsuit against the company. He required multiple skin grafts and underwent physical therapy.
In September, a teacher in England, Sarah Crockett, had her S7 Edge explode inside a restaurant in Witham, Essex. Crockett noticed the phone expanding and dropped it onto a table. Closed-circuit video from the incident shows a large amount of smoke spewing from the phone as it melts.
In November, Amarjit Mann was driving in Canada through his hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba, when he felt a warmness in his pants pocket. He took out his S7 Edge and it exploded in his hands, according to the Winnipeg Sun. He suffered burns to both of his hands.
And in February, a phone belonging to a Germantown, Ohio, couple exploded inside their home. Kelly Taylor reported hearing a pop followed by a sizzle and smoke pouring out of the phone. Taylor burned his finger when he grabbed the phone off a couch, where it was charging, WCMH-TV reported.
Tony Morgan said he feels fortunate no one was injured and that his home didn’t end up burning. He said his elderly parents were visiting at the time of the incident, and it would have been difficult to get them to safety from an upstairs bedroom if a fire had started in the first-floor bedroom.
“It could have turned out really bad,” he said.
Cory Meisenheimer, owner of Idaho iRepair in Boise, said he had not heard of any local S7 Edge users having the same problem with their phones. Likewise, a worker at Cellairis, which also repairs phones, said he had not heard of any problems with S7 Edge batteries.
Because of his bad experience and the others, Tony says the S7 Edge should go the way of the Note 7.
“I think they need to recall these,” he said.
Several Statesman readers responding to a Facebook question about Samsung phones said they were concerned their phones became hot while charging.
That is normal, the company said. If a phone becomes too hot, it should stop charging and might even shut down temporarily. Other factors that could affect the amount of heat generated by a phone include using multiple apps for an extended period of time, using gaming or GPS tracking apps, and leaving a phone in a parked car on a hot day.
The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association urges smartphone users to follow manufacturers’ battery usage, storage and charging guidelines found in owners’ manuals.
Tony Morgan submitted a copy of his service contract with Verizon to Samsung a couple of weeks ago to see if he could get the cost of his phone refunded. A Samsung representative contacted him Tuesday, Morgan said, a day after the Idaho Statesman reached out to a company representative.
Until the phone exploded, the Morgans were happy with the S7 Edge, they said. Because of the incident, they said, they aren’t comfortable buying another Samsung phone. And Theresa Morgan, a Head Start administrator, said she wasn’t willing to continue using her S7 Edge. They each had a year left on their two-year contracts and had to pay off the remainder owed on those phones before they could get new ones, Google Pixel XLs.
“We like them,” Theresa said.
Have questions about your Samsung?
Samsung asks that anyone with questions or who has experienced an issue with a Samsung product call 1-800-SAMSUNG.