New Kind Of ‘Pengci’? Chinese Users Cook Samsung Galaxy Note 7 To Make Battery Explode

After first reports of a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 battery exploding in China, Samsung stated that its investigation found no battery problem in the People’s Republic. South Korean media now report that the explosions were purposely caused for compensation. Is deliberately blowing up your smartphone a new kind of ‘pengci’?

Pengci (碰瓷) is a widespread fraud in China that involves deliberately crashing cars and then wanting compensation. Something similarly seems to be happening with the incidents of exploding Samsung Galaxy Note 7 batteries in China.

A day after Chinese media reported about exploding Samsung Galaxy Note 7 (三星盖乐世Note7) batteries in China, the official Samsung China released a statement through its Weibo account that for at least one of these cases, the fire was caused by heating outside of the phone.

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The statement comes after two Chinese Samsung Note 7 users reported their phones exploded over the weekend. The report of these cases in China indicated another setback for Samsung, that was already struggling to restore consumer trust after dozens of reports in other countries of overheating or exploding batteries.

One case that was widely reported by Chinese media on September 18 was brought to light by a 23-year-old netizen who posted pictures of his coral blue note 7 after it allegedly exploded.

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The topic “Samsung Note 7 Battery Explosions” (#三星Note7电池爆炸#) became trending on Weibo. By September 19, it had received over 2.1 million views.

“Cooking the Samsung for 2-3 Minutes”

Many netizens are unsure what Samsung actually meant with its statement that the fire was caused by “external” components: “Is Samsung saying that Chinese Samsung users are cooking their phones until they explode?” one netizen wondered.

Another person also commented: “Do you think Chinese people even put their phones in the oven?”

On September 20, South Korean media reported that the Chinese users were indeed deliberately setting off their phones to demand compensation. The incidents occurred after Samsung globally recalled its Galaxy Note 7 over battery fears in early September. After the premium smartphone had been on sale for only two weeks, already 35 faulty phone batteries were reported. The explosions were found to be caused by a battery cell issue.

Samsung assured Chinese customers that they did not need to worry about the global recall since Samsung China uses batteries from a different supplier – which is why the Galaxy Note 7 recall would not affect customers in the People’s Republic (PRC).

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After testing the Chinese phones that allegedly exploded, Samsung found they were intentionally heated. According to media reports, similar effects to what is shown on the pictures of the Chinese netizens can be reached after putting the Samsung on an electric cooking plate for 2-3 minutes at 200 degrees. Similar effects can occur when putting the Samsung in the oven or microwave.

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A New Kind of Pengci?

The intentional cooking of Samsung smartphones is similar to the phenomenon of ‘pengci’. Pengci (碰瓷,literally: knocking over porcelain) is a type of widespread fraud in China where people deliberately crash against cars and then demand compensation, as can also be seen in the gif below.

Pengci is very common in the PRC, with some extreme cases making headlines occasionally. Earlier this year, Shanghaiist reported an incident where an elderly woman was ‘hit’ by a toy Mercedes car after which she asked for medical help and allegedly wanted to be compensated.

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Some people are willing to put themselves at serious risk in hopes of getting compensation. Cooking one’s smartphone belongs in the same category as it can cause an explosion that could potentially danger people around it.

Although the battery explosions in China are found to be intentionally caused, Samsung is already suffering from the widespread fear for phone combustion. Some netizens posted pictures showing specific warning signs at the airport that the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 could not be used on board of the airplane.

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The topic also triggered many jokes on Chinese social media. One Weibo user posted this picture of a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphone advertisement right next to a fire extinguisher.

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– By Manya Koetse

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