Of course, there had been reports of the device – Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 – spontaneously igniting before. A few weeks earlier the company had been forced into an embarrassing recall of more than 2.5 million devices, blaming faulty batteries, which was why Green, the head of operations at a small electronics company, had been asked by the flight crew to turn it off before flying.
But Green’s device was not one of those recalled. He had obtained it just two weeks earlier at an ATT store: the phone was one of a new replacement batch, made with a different battery supplier, which Samsung had speedily brought to shelves.
Green says passengers on his flight had even been joking about the device going up in flames as they boarded, although everyone believed it was completely safe: the company had said so after all. “To be clear, the Note 7 with the new battery is safe. The battery cell issue is resolved,” Samsung America’s president Tim Baxter had told customers just days earlier.
Naturally, there was surprise at Samsung headquarters too. The immediate reaction was to question Green’s claim that it was one of the company’s replacements, and not an original, known to be potentially faulty. “Until we are able to retrieve the device, we cannot confirm that this incident involves the new Note 7,” Samsung’s initial statement said.