Smartphones exploding are not unusual, but in this case, the Malaysian government ought to take the matter more seriously.
YTL Communications, sponsor of the YES Altitude 3 smartphones for students under the government-backed Jaringan Prihatin program, said today that they were investigating the explosion of one of its smartphones that was given to a 9-year-old student. There was no mention of a recall of smartphones that were distributed to lower-income students earlier this year.
This is the first reported incident of YES smartphones exploding, according to China Mobile, which jointly developed the phone with YES for educational purposes. Chinese electronics company Xiaomi has since replaced the student’s damaged phone with a Redmi Note 10 5G.
The aunt of the affected student, Suryani Abd Ghani, posted to social media about her nephew’s phone exploding in their home in Gombak on Monday, even though it was not being charged. Her husband noted that the phone’s battery life didn’t last long and would overheat quickly.
“Suddenly it (the phone) caught on fire. (He) just got it less than a month ago,” she wrote online, seemingly relieved about being at home with her husband when the incident happened during the student’s online lessons.
China Mobile said that the same battery has been in production since 2018 and that more than 4.5 million units have been shipped globally without any reported incident of this nature. Other reports said that the model had entry-level specifications of 1GB of RAM, 8GB ROM, and a MediaTek 8-core 1.3GHz chipset. It was the same model as the ones given out for free to over 100,000 lower-income, or B40, families under the Learn From Home Initiative at the start of the first Movement Control Order lockdown last year.
Every student in Malaysia now relies on electronic devices for online lessons but not everyone can afford them.
The Jaringan Prihatin program is subsidized by the government and provides either RM300 subsidies for each device or a RM180 rebate on annual data plans. A total of RM1.5 billion (US$360 million) was allocated to this.
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