Reports of exploding batteries that are causing fires in some Samsung Galaxy Note7 flagship smartphones in Korea have apparently caused the company to halt shipments of the devices there while the alleged problem is investigated.
An official with a Korean telecom told the Korean Yonhap News Agency that Samsung took the action to halt shipments of the devices to telecoms in the country, according to an Aug. 31 story by The Korean Herald.
"Samsung has stopped supplying the phones even though preorders have not yet been shipped," the telecom official told the news service. "It is unclear whether the suspension is because of production constraints or a probe into the recent explosions.”
Since the Note7 phablet launched in Korea on Aug. 19, "there have been several reports in Korea and overseas claiming that the phone exploded while charging," The Korean Herald reported. No injuries from the alleged battery explosions have been disclosed, the story continued.
Samsung told eWEEK in an email response to an inquiry that it is looking into the reports it has received and is "conducting a thorough inspection" of the phones and batteries. "We will share the findings as soon as possible," the company said in its statement. "Samsung is fully committed to providing the highest quality products to our consumers."
It is not known if there have been any incidents of battery explosions or fires in Note7 handsets in other countries, including the United States.
A Sept. 1 Reuters report said Samsung suffered a $7 billion drop in its market value after the reports of exploding Note7 phones were announced. The story said that Samsung officials confirmed that Note7 "shipments had been delayed for quality control testing, and that shipments to South Korea's top three mobile carriers had been halted."
The reports of the alleged Note7 battery fires come at a precarious time for Samsung, which in July reported its highest operating profit in two years in the second quarter of 2016, posting a $7.19 billion profit (8.14 trillion Korean Won, KRW), according to an earlier eWEEK story. That was an 18 percent increase from the 6.9 trillion KRW posted a year ago.
That was the highest quarterly operating profit posted by the company since it brought in 8.49 trillion KRW in the first quarter of 2014 and brought some good news to the world's largest smartphone maker, which had been struggling with some tough earnings reports over the last several years as it battled successful global sales challenges from rival smartphone makers including Apple and Chinese upstarts such as Huawei.
Samsung's Q2 revenue reached $45 billion (50.94 trillion KRW), up from the 48.54 trillion KRW posted in the same quarter a year ago, the story reported. Revenue in the mobile division, which includes smartphones, rose to 26.56 trillion KRW from 26.06 trillion KRW a year ago. In the company's mobile division, operating profit rose to $3.82 billion (4.32 trillion KRW), which was up 57 percent from the 2.76 trillion KRW brought in the same quarter in 2015.
The latest Note7 phablet, which hit the market on Aug. 19 in the U.S., is slimmer and more rounded compared with the previous version, the Note5, which debuted in August 2015. The latest device takes many of its features from the company's latest S7 and S7 Edge smartphones, which were released in March.
Highlighting the Note7 is a 5.7-inch quad HD dual-edge Super AMOLED touch-screen display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 octa-core 64-bit processor, 4GB of LPDDR4 memory, 64GB of onboard storage and a microSD slot for additional storage via memory cards up to 256GB. The phone runs on the Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow operating system and includes all-new iris scanning capabilities, a much-improved integrated S Pen stylus, and a first-ever "Secure Folder" feature for important documents and content.
In July, Samsung was faced with claims that a small number of Galaxy S7 Active rugged smartphones leaked when submerged in water, which eventually caused the company to make a correction on its assembly lines to fix the problem, according to an earlier eWEEK story. The company confirmed and corrected the issue after the leakage was reported by consumer product testing organization Consumer Reports after it tested two Galaxy S7 Active handsets and both failed water-submersion tests.