Samsung recalls Galaxy Note 7 after battery explosions

Global Business

South Korea Samsung Galaxy Note 7A customer holds a Samsung Electronics Galaxy Note 7 smartphone at the headquarters of South Korean mobile carrier KT in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. Samsung will issue a global recall of the Galaxy Note 7 smartphone as soon as this weekend after its investigation on explosion claims found batteries were at fault, according to South Korea’s Yonhap News. (AP Photo/ahn Young-joon)

Samsung’s Note 7s are being pulled from shelves in 10 countries, including South Korea and the United States, just two weeks after the product’s launch. Customers who already bought Note 7s will be able to swap them for new smartphones in about two weeks.

CCTV America’s Jim Spellman has the latest.

Samsung recalls Galaxy Note 7 after battery explosions

Samsung's Note 7s are being pulled from shelves in 10 countries, including South Korea and the United States, just two weeks after the product's launch. CCTV America's Jim Spellman has the latest.

Koh Dong-jin, head of Samsung’s mobile business, said during a news conference the recall will affect 10 countries but not China, where the firm started selling the phone with a different battery.

“By putting our top priority on customer safety, we’ve decided to halt sales of Galaxy Note 7 and offer new replacement handsets to all customers no matter when they bought it,” said Koh.

The executive did not comment on the exact number of phones that need to be replaced, though he said the firm has sold 2.5 million of the premium devices so far. The company plans to replace not only phones with faulty batteries that have actually been sold to consumers but also inventory or products in transit to retailers.

“I once again deeply apologise for the inconvenience to customers who like our products,” Koh added. 

The recall, the first for the new smartphone, comes at a crucial moment in Samsung’s mobile business. Apple is scheduled 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.

Samsung said it had confirmed 35 instances of Note 7s catching fire or exploding. There have been no reports of injuries related to the problem.

The company said it has not found a way to tell exactly which phones may endanger users out of the 2.5 million Note 7s already sold globally. It estimated that about 24 out of 1 million units may have a faulty battery.

After complaints surfaced online, Samsung found that a battery cell made by one of its two battery suppliers caused the phone to catch fire. Koh refused to name the supplier.

Samsung said on Wednesday it had stopped supplying the top three local carriers with the phone, priced at 988,900 won ($886) in South Korea, and was delaying shipments as it conducts additional quality tests. The delay came after reports from some customers that their Note 7 caught fire while charging.

Samsung said new sales of the phones in the affected markets would begin after it deals with the replacement needs, which the firm estimates would take about two weeks. The company would extend refund periods for affected customers and offer exchanges for other Samsung phones, Koh said.

The mobile division accounted for about 54 percent of Samsung Electronics’ January-June operating profit of 14.8 trillion won.