Samsung sued over defective Galaxy S20 smartphones

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo, ITWeb's news editor.
Johannesburg, 28 Apr 2021

US consumers yesterday sued South Korean electronics giant Samsung over defective Galaxy S20 smartphones.

According to attorneys at Hagens Berman, the consumers filed a class-action lawsuit against Samsung, accusing the electronics giant of concealing a widespread defect that causes the rear camera glass in Samsung Galaxy S20 smartphones to shatter unexpectedly during normal use.

They note the affected products include Galaxy S20, Galaxy S20+, Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G, Galaxy S20+ 5G, Galaxy S20 5G, Galaxy S20 Ultra/LTE, Galaxy S20 FE and Galaxy S20 FE 5G.

In February 2020, Samsung announced its smartphone flagship range, the Galaxy S20-series.

Hagens Berman says the lawsuit, filed 27 April 2021 in the US District Court of the District of New Jersey, accuses Samsung of fraud, breach of warranty and violations of several consumer-protection laws.

It points out the phones, sold with “professional” camera quality, were made and sold with a defect affecting the back camera module’s glass covering that “shatters – spontaneously, with no external force applied – and even when the phone is encased in a protective case”, according to the lawsuit.

Bullet-hole pattern

The attorneys say it took no more than four days after the Samsung Galaxy S20 went on sale for a purchaser to report the defect on Samsung’s community Web site, and the complaint details many consumer reports.

The lawsuit states the shattering is a known defect that has also plagued other previously released Samsung phone models. The shattering leaves behind a tell-tale “bullet-hole pattern”.

“Samsung sold its Galaxy S20 as a high-end option for consumers, with a ‘professional’ grade camera, charging upwards of $1 600 per device, only to have them suddenly lose a major aspect of their functionality,” says Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman and attorney for consumers in the class-action.

“During a time of social distancing and increased use of online access, consumers are especially in need of a reliable mobile device, yet Samsung has refused to deliver the reliability it promised its customers.”

The consumers allege that despite having paid a premium price for the Galaxy S20 and the significance of the defect, Samsung refuses to cover the issue under its warranty, forcing them to pay $400 to send the phone back to Samsung to investigate the issue, or $100 under purchased Samsung care device insurance to repair the shattered glass.

Berman says often consumers do so only to have the defect reoccur, leaving them doubly harmed. Other consumers report having paid hundreds of dollars out of pocket at third-party repair providers, he adds.

Samsung’s revenue in 2020, when it released the Galaxy S20, was more than $200 billion. In the first quarter of 2020, Samsung captured 20% of the global smartphone market share, the law firm says.

It adds that following hundreds of online reports of the spontaneous shattered, cracked and broken rear camera glass in the Galaxy S20, Samsung acknowledged the defect and admitted consumers were not at fault.

In a Samsung consumer forum, a Samsung care ambassador stated: “This happened to one of our ambassadors. After many complaints about the issue, we found out that it has to do with pressure build up underneath the glass and not customers banging it against something.”

After this post by Samsung acknowledging the issue was rooted in a single identifiable cause, and attributable to Samsung, Samsung still failed to initiate a recall, and continues to deny customer warranty claims. Samsung also continues to offer no meaningful solution to the issue, according to attorneys.

Out of nowhere

The lawsuit details many consumers’ complaints regarding the shattered glass defect. “I set it down on a wood table and picked it back up and something happened. I called Samsung and they wanted me to send my phone in and they would fix it but that would take up to two weeks. I bought the protection plan on it but they are giving me the runaround and still haven’t done anything,” says one consumer.

“Out of nowhere, I looked at my camera and the glass is cracked. I didn’t even drop it,” another consumer alleges.

“Within less than a week, my glass on the camera has broken. Phone has always been in a case and not dropped…There is absolutely no reason this should of happened. The camera is the reason I decided on the S20 Plus. This will be my last S phone,” another one says.

The consumers seek repayment for the repairs and other damages they suffered due to Samsung’s widespread design defect and warranty breaches. The suit also seeks compensation for affected consumers regarding a loss of value in the product.