Security Theatre: Samsung Note 7

Go google for photos of 'exploding Note 7' and you will realise that in every single photo, the phone is still intact in a one piece. If the phone really exploded, you would be looking at fragments scattered over an area. The Note 7 caught fire. It didn't explode. The media just blows (no pun intended) things out of proportion. Unfortunately, some entities, like the US Department of Transportation, lack critical thinking skills and swallow these reports whole.

The Samsung Note 7 and its replacement has been catching fire at a rate of about 1 device per day. Given that over 1 million devices have been sold, there is literally a 1 in a million chance of it catching fire every day.

The average person spends so little of his time in the air that he is more likely to die in a car accident on the way to the airport than flying in the plane. Yet, the US Department of Transportation has found a need to ban the phones on board US flights. In my opinion, such a move is security theatre, a measure that is designed to incite fear and panic while providing no improvement in security whatsoever. It inconveniences the general public greatly, TSA officers have to go through a crash course on recognizing the Note 7, they have to check all passengers' phones in addition to their other belongings. This is no easy feat considering how most smartphones today look very much alike. In addition, Note 7 users who were on vacation will now have to find some way to ship their phones back home since it cannot go on board the plane.

It should be sufficient to just rely on passenger's prudence. Any sane Note 7 owner who treasures his own well-being would minimise or even totally avoid using the phone whether on land or when flying. Statistically speaking, each flight would have at most a handful of Note 7 users. Each device has a 1 in a million chance of catching fire, assuming the flight duration is 24 hours. Shorter flights have even lower risks. Even if the stars align and a Note 7 catches fire, it would likely injure only the owner himself. Look up "Lithium ion phone battery fires" on YouTube, it is a small fire that can be put out with the blankets that the airlines hand out.

The only reason why this is such a huge incident is because of Samsung's reputation and the sheer number of devices sold. I am willing to bet that there are many China knock-off phones and laptops which are just as likely to catch fire. Given the larger capacity of laptop batteries, it is likely to pose a greater threat. In conclusion, I believe the ban was unwarranted and simply security theatre.