SEOUL: Samsung issued a global recall of the Galaxy Note 7 smartphone on Friday, putting sales of the device to a stop after it investigated reports about units with exploding batteries.
The latest addition to the Note series went on sale in some markets, including South Korea and the United States, on Aug 19.
“There have been 35 cases that have been reported globally,” Samsung said in an official statement, adding that it had conducted a thorough inspection with suppliers to identify possible affected batteries in the market.
Units which have already been sold will be replaced by the company in the next few weeks, Samsung said.
Shipments of the Galaxy Note 7 smartphone were delayed in South Korea this week for extra quality control testing. The move came after reports that batteries in some of the jumbo smartphones exploded while they were being charged.
Citing an unnamed company official, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency said Samsung’s investigation found that faulty batteries caused the phone to catch fire.
Yonhap News said five or six explosions were reported by consumers. It cited pictures of severely damaged phones shared in local online communities, social media and YouTube. The photos and accounts could not be immediately verified.
There were no confirmed reports of any injuries.
The number of the Galaxy Note 7 phones with a faulty battery accounts for “less than 0.1 per cent” of the products in the market and Samsung is discussing how to resolve the issue with Verizon and its other partners, the official told Yonhap.
The battery issue is a fresh blow to Samsung’s smartphone business that has been on a recovery track.
Samsung reported stellar earnings that beat market expectations in the latest quarter and its stock price was at a record high before the Note 7’s battery problems dented investor sentiment. Samsung’s share rose 0.8pc early Friday. The stock closed 2pc lower in the previous session.
Despite the investigation in South Korea, Samsung went ahead with its scheduled launch Thursday of the Galaxy Note 7 in China.
It is unusual for Samsung to confirm a delay in sales of a device, and rare for it to cite a quality issue.
“Every year, there have been accidents of battery explosions but it is the first time that six or seven cases happened within such a short period after the launch of a new product,” said Ha Joon-doo, an analyst at Shinhan Investment Corp.
The Galaxy Note 7 smartphone is the latest iteration of Samsung’s Note series that feature a giant screen and a stylus.
The Note series smartphones are one of the most expensive lineups released by Samsung and usually inherit designs and features of the Galaxy S series that debut in the spring. Samsung also added an iris scanner to the Note 7, which lets users unlock the phone by detecting patterns in the eyes.
Even before the issue of battery explosions emerged, supplies were not keeping up with higher-than-expected demand for the smartphone.