Two weeks after Samsung launched its Galaxy Note 7 smartphones, the South Korea manufacturer is recalling them worldwide amid reports that of batteries exploding and starting fires.
Samsung said that it does not know exactly which phones out the 2.5 million units it has already sold could be prone to exploding, but it has estimated that about 1.7 percent of the phones contain the faulty batteries. So far the company has received 35 reports of Note 7s exploding or catching fire. No injuries have been reported as a result of the defect.
The Seoul-based electronics manufacturer has recalled the Note 7 smartphones in the U.S., South Korea, and eight other countries. The company did not say in its Friday announcement whether Note 7 owners should continue to use their phone until they are able to take it back for a replacement in about two weeks.
The company also didn’t say whether the smartphones were exploding and catching fire while they were being charged or during normal use.
IDC Researcher Ramon Llamas, who tracks mobile devices, told the Associated Press that Samsung needs to step up its communications about the Note 7 defect and recall.
“The ball is in Samsung’s court to make this right. Consumers want information about what’s going on and peace of mind that this is not going to happen again,” he told the AP. “No one wants to wake up at 1, 2 or 3 (in the morning) and find out your smartphone’s on fire.”
Because it’s very unusual for cellular phones to combust at all, “35 instances is 35 too many,” Mr. Llamas told the AP.
Reports surfacing online about Note 7 explosions and fires prompted Samsung to look into the problem. The company eventually determined that the fires were caused by batteries made by one of its two battery suppliers, but it did not name the supplier.
“There was a tiny problem in the manufacturing process, so it was very difficult to figure out,” Koh Dong-jin, president of Samsung’s arm, told reporters Friday. “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.”
South Korean high school teacher Park Soo-Jung said she bought and activated her Samsung Note 7 phone on Aug. 19, the day it was released. According to the AP, Soo-Jung wrote in a popular online forum the day before the recall that said she bruised herself jumping out of bed when she found her phone had burst into flames and filled her room with smoke.
She said she is reconsidering getting another Note 7 because all of her personal data was destroyed in the new device.
“If the exploded phone had burned near my head, I would not have been able to write this post,” she wrote on the forum, including a photo of the scorched Note 7.