Reports of a Samsung Galaxy Note 9 catching fire earlier this month may feel like cause for alarm after the ill-fated Galaxy Note 7's widespread battery problems, but at this moment the incident is just that: an isolated incident.
Long Island real estate agent Diane Chung reported that her Note 9 caught fire on September 3, resulting in thick smoke billowing from inside her purse while she was riding in her building's elevator. The phone allegedly had to be dumped in a bucket of water once the elevator reached the ground floor.
Before the launch of the new phone, Samsung's head of mobile DJ Koh addressed concerns when he said "the battery in the Galaxy Note 9 is safer than ever. Users do not have to worry about the batteries anymore."
Ms. Chung is now filing a lawsuit against Samsung that along with damages is seeking to ban any further sales of the Note 9.
Samsung provided the following statement about the incident: "We have not received any reports of similar incidents involving a Galaxy Note 9 device and we are investigating the matter."
As an isolated incident, however, phone fires are not uncommon. Just this year we've seen reports of a ZTE exploding in Australia, an Apple store in Amsterdam being evacuated after an iPad battery exploded, an unknown model of phone exploding in a man's pocket in Mumbai, an LG catching fire on an Air Canada flight, an iPhone exploding in a repair shop in Las Vegas, and in an exceedingly rare case a teenager in India was killed when her Nokia phone exploded in her hands.
The fact is that lithium-ion batteries, a type of technology used in all smartphones, are fundamentally unstable, and can overheat or even explode due to myriad factors such as stress, heat or being punctured.
So Note 9 owners can breathe safe, unless further reports follow. For owners of all phones with lithium-ion batteries, be careful with your devices while charging (avoid cheap third-party chargers!), don't leave them in hot cars in the summer and especially don't charge your phone under your pillow or next to your bed.