Buying a smartphone might blow up in your face

Joel Hopkins, Reporter

For many college students, a good smartphone is a helpful tool for staying up to date on what is happening inside and out of the classroom. For other college students, like myself, smartphones are just our favorite piece of technology.

While many consumers get locked into binding phone contracts that limit their phone upgrades to once every two years or so, others take a different route that allows them to get a new phone practically whenever they please.

Whether it be AT&T’s “Next,” Verizon’s “Edge,” or T-Mobile’s “Jump” plan, there are options available for those who want a big name cell carrier, and a new phone every few months. These plans allow you to pay more for new phones and in turn, get them immediately when they come out. You do not have to wait for an approved-by-your-contract upgrade. But just because you can upgrade sooner, doesn’t necessarily mean you should.

Some who have these “upgrade sooner” plans and many other smartphone fans jumped the gun to buy Samsung’s new Galaxy Note 7 when it released last month. The phone initially was the recipient of rave reviews, and its release appeared to be a grand success for Samsung.

Just last week, however, Samsung released a statement announcing that they are stopping the sale of new Note 7 and will be replacing already purchased phones due to a “battery cell issue” that other sources are calling more of an “exploding phone issue.” There are videos floating around social media showcasing crispy new Note 7s that were the result of a surprise combustion that occurred while the phone was charging.

This is not the first time that a hyped-up new smartphone release flopped on its face. Remember the controversy that surrounded the release of Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus in 2014? A weak point in the chassis was discovered that allowed the phones to bend easily when the pressure was applied in the correct spot but initially, the phone was not recalled. Apple claimed that iPhones wouldn’t bend normally without excessive force. Apple nonetheless began reinforcing this weak spot on newer models of the phone, and if you bought one of the early released models of the 6 Plus, too bad for you. It wasn’t until August of last year that some iPhone 6 Plus’s finally were recalled, but it was for an unrelated issue with the phone’s camera.

Recalls like these are not something we have only seen in the past couple years. In 2009, Samsung issued a recall for some of their “Jitterbug” phones due to a glitch that rendered them unable to connect to emergency services while roaming. Further back, in 2004, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced three separate cell phone battery recalls which affected millions of customers. This battery defect, as you may have guessed, was the same: they would explode just like our Note 7s.

I’m sure some who pre-ordered the Note 7, or bought them shortly after release, may be kicking themselves now, but they had no way of foreseeing this issue. Most smartphones release without any glitches, and as for the ones that do require recalls, they don’t always show up this quickly. Some defects take months or even longer to appear.

Considering the number of smartphones being released constantly and how few of them have been recalled, you probably don’t need to worry about purchasing that new phone you’ve got your eye on. It may be wise to wait a few weeks before you pull the trigger. As with anything new, there’s bound to be a few kinks to work out right off the bat. If you want to avoid any possibility of a problem, sometimes a new smartphone is worth the wait.

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