Internal investigation finds batteries at fault after reports of newly launched devices exploding while being charged
Samsung is expected to announce a global recall of the Galaxy Note 7 smartphone after an internal investigation into reports of batteries catching fire, according to reports.
Samsung refused to comment on the claims, made on Friday by South Korea’s Yonhap News and in the Korea Herald, but confirmed it was conducting the inspection with its partners.
“We will share the findings as soon as possible. Samsung is fully committed to providing the highest quality products to our consumers,” the company said in a statement.
Samsung is due to hold a news conference later on Friday about the findings of its investigation and plans for the Galaxy Note 7.
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.
“Came home from work, put it to charge for a little bit before I had class,” Gonzalez said. “Went to put it on my waist and it caught fire. Yup. Brand new phone, not even two weeks old. Be careful out there, everyone rocking the new Note 7, might catch fire.”
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.
South Korean school teacher Park Soo-Jung said she rushed to buy the Galaxy Note 7, pre-ordering and then activating it on 19 August, its official launch date. Park, 34, who lives in the port city of Busan, told the Associated Press by email she was bruised when she rushed out of bed after her phone burst into flames, filling her bedroom with smoke smelling of chemicals.
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. Park said Samsung offered her a full refund and compensation of 300,000 won (£203).
“If the exploded phone in flame was near my head, I would not have been able to write this post,” she said in an online forum on Thursday, where she shared a photo of the her damaged Note 7 and described dousing the burning phone with water.
Citing an unnamed company official, Yonhap said Samsung’s investigation has found that faulty batteries have caused phones to catch fire. It said Samsung estimates that the number of Galaxy Note 7 phones with the faulty battery accounts for “less than 0.1%” of the products in the market. Samsung is discussing how to resolve the issue with Verizon and its other partners, the official told Yonhap.
SK Telecom, South Korea’s largest mobile carrier, said about 400,000 units of the Galaxy Note 7 were estimated to have been sold in South Korea.
Despite the investigation in South Korea, Samsung went ahead with its scheduled launch on Thursday of the Galaxy Note 7 in China. Company officials did not reply to questions about how Samsung determined which phones are deemed safe and which required further testing. It did not say if those phones are different from the ones sold in South Korea.
Yonhap News said five or six explosions were reported by consumers, including Park’s case, citing pictures and reports of severely damaged phones shared in local online communities, social media and YouTube. Other photos and accounts, other than Park’s, could not be immediately verified.
There were no confirmed reports of any injuries.
Original source: The Guardian