SEOUL >> Samsung recalled its Galaxy Note 7 smartphones Friday after finding some of their batteries exploded or caught fire.
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, said Koh Dong-jin, president of Samsung’s mobile business.
He apologized for causing inconvenience and concern to customers.
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.
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 might endanger users out of the 2.5 million Note 7s already sold globally. It estimated that about 1 in 42,000 units could have a faulty battery.
Samsung’s official statement was silent on whether customers should stop using their phones, and it didn’t say whether the problems happened while the phones were charging or during normal use.
“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,” said Ramon Llamas, who tracks mobile devices at research firm IDC. “No one wants to wake up at 1, 2 or 3 (in the morning) and find out your smartphone’s on fire.”
He added that while phone combustions are unusual, “35 instances are 35 too many.”
This summer, Samsung ran into a quality-control issue with another smartphone, a niche model called the Galaxy S7 Active. Consumer Reports found that the phone didn’t live up to its water-resistance promises. Samsung said that relatively few phones were affected and that it had identified and fixed the manufacturing problem. Samsung said it would replace devices under warranty if it failed, but it declined to let customers swap phones otherwise or to issue a broader recall.