Samsung is recalling millions of new Galaxy Note 7 smartphones worldwide after reports that the devices can catch fire while charging. Korean company is offering immediate exchanges and refunds.
Samsung recalled its Galaxy Note 7 smartphones on Friday after customers reported their batteries exploding or catching fire during charging.
“It has been confirmed that it was a battery cell problem,” Koh Dong-jin, president of Samsung‘s mobile business, told a news conference in Seoul. He said that customers who already bought the smartphone would be able to swap them for new smartphones, regardless of when they purchased them.
The recall was global, Koh said, because the company couldn’t find ways to specify exactly which phones may endanger users. As a result, Note 7s would have to be pulled from shelves in 10 countries, including Australia, United States and South Korea. It will offer customers a new product for free in the coming weeks to replace the 2.5 million Galaxy Note 7s that have been sold.
“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,” South Korean electronics giant confirmed. “However, because our customers’ safety is an absolute priority at Samsung, we have stopped sales of the Galaxy Note 7.”
In one video posted earlier this week, a YouTube user named Ariel Gonzalez showed off his brand new Samsung Galaxy Note 7, its screen charred and partially melted.
Others posted photos of Note 7s whose USB-port sides had similarly melted away, destroying the phones. Battery problems are not uncommon in new lines of mobile phones, especially in cases where customers are not using official charging devices.
An employee of a Samsung service centre in Busan confirmed that the Galaxy Note 7 caught fire and said the sample was sent to the company’s headquarters.
It seems China is the one place where the Note 7 hasn’t been recalled, as reports are claiming that a different battery supplier was used in China.
What’s causing phones to be recalled?
Samsung’s official statement on the recall says that the issue relates to the battery cells used in some Note 7s, which lines up with the earlier reports of phones catching fire and exploding. Low-quality battery cells are susceptible to overheating and failing when charged and used heavily.
Given the number of reports that Samsung is investigating, a recall was to be expected. The company estimated that about 1 in 42,000 units may have a faulty battery.
How will the recall affect Samsung?
Although, there have been no reports of injuries related to the problem. However, the recall, the first for the new smartphone though not the first for a battery, comes at a crucial moment in Samsung’s mobile business. Apple is expected to announce its new iPhone next week and Samsung’s mobile division was counting on momentum from the Note 7’s strong reviews and higher-than-expected demand.
“There was a tiny problem in the manufacturing process, so it was very difficult to figure out,” Koh told reporters at a news conference. “It will cost us so much it makes my heart ache. Nevertheless, the reason we made this decision is because what is most important is customer safety.”
Samsung to swap faulty Galaxy Note 7 devices with S7 models
To repair the damage done by the global recall of its flagship premium device Galaxy Note 7 over battery faults, Samsung said it will let customers downgrade to a Galaxy S7 and refund the price difference. Or customers can get a replacement Note 7 as early as next week. The phones start at $850 in the U.S., more expensive than most phones.
According to a recent press release, Samsung is offering two options to those who are eligible for a trade-in:
- Exchange current Galaxy Note7 device with a new Galaxy Note7 (as early as next week)
- Exchange current Galaxy Note7 for a Galaxy S7 or Galaxy S7 edge and replacement of any Note7 specific accessories with a refund of the price difference between devices
In a bid to make up for the inconvenience the issue may have caused, the company is also giving away a $25 gift card or a $25 phone bill credit to those who participate in the program.