[UPDATE: 16 June – 7:00pm] YTL Communications has pledged to investigate the reported incident. Wing K. Lee, CEO, said that the phone has used the same battery since it started production in 2018 and has shipped more than 4.5 million units without any reported safety incidents.
[ORIGINAL ARTICLE: 16 June – 6:50pm]
A nine-year-old boy got the shock of his life when his phone suddenly burst into flames during his online class on Monday. The boy had received the free subsidised phone under the Jaringan Prihatin programme.
Taking to Facebook, the boy’s aunt detailed the experience and said that the phone was less than a month old. She told Malaysiakini that the lightshow happened around 9.30AM during her nephew’s online class in their Gombak home. Fortunately, no one was harmed.
“Luckily we were at home, otherwise the house might have burnt down,” she said.
Suryani, a kindergarten teacher, said her husband had helped their nephew to apply for the free phone under the programme because his old laptop was laggy. She said that the new phone often overheats and lags. More importantly, the phone wasn’t charging when it internally combusted.
The Perak state government recently distributed the same 20,000 YES Altitude 3 phones to children of B40 families under a separate Tuisyen Cikgu Saarani (TCS) programme. Ahmad Saidi Mohamad Daud, Chairman of Education, Higher Learning and Human Resources Committee, said that the free phones are of low quality to prevent the devices from being misused to play games.
Saarani Mohamad, the Perak Menteri Besar, today said that it is better for the students to have a “low quality” phone than no phone at all. He claimed that the chairman inspected the phones and they were deemed suitable for online learning. Sarani also explained that the phones were donated by the YTL Foundation and did not cost the government a single sen.
The RM3.5 billion Jaringan Prihatin programme targeted at 8.5 million low-income households and eligible recipients can opt for a mobile device, which will be subsidised by the government for RM300, or opt for a data plan with an RM180 rebate over 12 months.
The spec-sheet on Yes’ website shows that the Yes Altitude 3 is a low-end phone that uses Android Go, an Android OS variant that is specifically designed to run on phones with poor processing power. It has a 5-inch 480p display and is equipped with a 1.3Ghz MediaTek MT6739WA processor, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of expandable storage. The phone only has a paltry 2,000mAh battery but does support VoLTE.
I requested this phone for my adik. Bila dah sampai, hampa teruk. Very lag, RAM 1GB je, tak sampai satu jam guna battery dah low. Nak buka google classroom pun take a solid 15 seconds before boleh tekan any button. How do you expect they can learn online smoothly with this phone? https://t.co/EzRa4ZLSLK
— 𝗛𝗲𝗶𝗱𝗶 𝗛𝗮𝗿𝗶𝘀 (@hidyharis) June 15, 2021
Following the chairman’s comment, many questioned if the phone is even capable of online learning. Some recipients even claim that it takes 15 seconds just for the phone to load up the Google Classroom app.
School lessons resumed this week under “PDPR” due to the total lockdown to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Research conducted by the Education Ministry in 2020 showed that 36.9% of students nationwide do not own a device for online learning.