Samsung has suspended sales of its brand-new top-end Galaxy Note 7 smartphone and is offering replacements for anyone who has already purchased one, but has stopped short of a full recall.
Koh Dong-jin, president of Samsung’s mobile business, said on Friday, two weeks after the Note 7’s launch: “We have received several reports of battery explosions on the Note 7.
And it has been confirmed that it was a battery cell problem. There was a tiny problem in the manufacturing process so it was very difficult to find out.”
Koh refused to name the supplier of the faulty battery, but said that Note 7s sold in China used batteries from a different supplier and were unaffected. He said that Samsung was working with two or three different battery suppliers for the smartphone, including its own Samsung SDI.
A Samsung spokesperson said: “To date there have been 35 cases that have been reported globally and we are currently conducting a thorough inspection with our suppliers to identify possible affected batteries in the market. However, because our customers’ safety is an absolute priority at Samsung, we have stopped sales of the Galaxy Note 7.
“For customers who already have Galaxy Note 7 devices, we will voluntarily replace their current device with a new one over the coming weeks.”
The Korean company said it expected it would take two weeks to prepare replacement devices of which 2.5m had been manufactured and 1m had been sold. Stock of the phablets has been quarantined in shops and mobile phone networks around the world pending the launch in the UK and other territories which was due to take place today.
Samsung’s advertising campaign, including a high-profile wrap of the Metro newspaper, had to be switched to the company’s popular Galaxy S7 series, which make up the mainstay of the company’s high-end smartphone sales.
Samsung launched the Note 7 at the end of August in some markets, including South Korea and the US. Shipments were delayed in South Korea this week for extra quality control testing after reports that the batteries of some of the jumbo smartphones exploded while they were being charged.
Samsung’s stock plunged by about $7bn over Wednesday and Thursday, barely a week after the phones launched to critical acclaim and the company’s market value reached a record high.
The tests follow multiple reports from customers, some posted in online videos and images, of phones that caught fire or exploded while charging.
In one video posted earlier this week, a YouTube user named Ariel Gonzalez showed off his phone, its screen charred and partially melted.