As expected, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has recalled Samsung’s latest Galaxy Note7 smartphone following a growing number of reports of fires and explosions caused by a defect in the batteries in the handsets.
The recall, known as Recall No. 16-266, was announced Sept. 15 and applies to all Samsung Galaxy Note7 smartphones sold before Sept. 15, 2016, according to the agency. The move comes because “the lithium-ion battery in the Galaxy Note7 smartphones can overheat and catch fire, posing a serious burn hazard to consumers,” the agency said.
The recall, which applies to about 1 million phones, is being conducted in conjunction with Canada and Mexico, according to the CPSC. Consumers are being urged to contact their wireless carriers or the store where they bought their phones for a replacement Note7 phone that is free of the defect or for a refund of their purchase price. Galaxy Note7 owners can also contact Samsung toll-free at (844) 365-6197 anytime or go online at www.samsung.com to replace their phone or arrange a refund, according to the CPSC.
“The recalled devices have a 5.7- inch screen and were sold in the following colors: black onyx, blue coral, gold platinum and silver titanium with a matching stylus,” the CPSC recall announcement states. “Samsung is printed on the top front of the phone and Galaxy Note7 is printed on the back of the phone.”
Consumers can determine whether their Note7 phone has been recalled by checking the IMEI number on the back of the phone or the packaging, and entering the IMEI number into an online registration site on Samsung’s website or calling the company.
The U.S. government recall comes after Samsung received 92 reports about Note7 batteries overheating in the U.S., causing 26 reports of burns and 55 reports of property damage, including fires in cars and a garage, the agency said.
As part of the recall, the CPSC is advising owners of the affected smartphones to “immediately stop using and power down the recalled Galaxy Note7 devices purchased before September 15, 2016” to prevent further fires or injuries.
The Samsung Note7 has been sold through AT&T, Best Buy, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular and Verizon, as well as through Samsung and other websites from August 2016 through September 2016 for between $850 and $890, the agency said.
Earlier this week, Samsung began pushing out a software update that limits Note7 battery charging to 60 percent of a full charge to prevent further fire incidents, according to a recent eWEEK story. The action is being taken even before Samsung’s global recall of the smartphones got underway officially.
Samsung had recently been in talks with the CPSC to create plans and procedures for a formal recall of the Note7 devices. Reports of fires and explosions with some of the phones began shortly after their late August release, according to a previous eWEEK story. Earlier in September, Samsung announced that it is voluntarily recalling and replacing the handsets for users.
About 35 reports of battery and device fires were originally reported with Note7 phones around the world when Samsung announced its recall earlier in September. The company said the problem is related to a “battery cell issue” that occurred during the manufacturing of the batteries that can only be fixed by replacing the phones with new units and new batteries.
Under Samsung’s earlier recall, the company offered to replace Note7 phones with a new Note7 that includes an unflawed battery (pending CPSC approval) or to exchange it for a new Samsung Galaxy S7 or Galaxy S7 Edge smartphone, along with the replacement or refund of any Note7-specific accessories. Select carrier and retail outlets will also provide customers with a Samsung loaner phone to use until a new Note7 handset is available if they choose to wait for a new Note7.
The Galaxy Note7 smartphone went on sale Aug. 19 in the United States and is the company’s premier flagship handsets, incorporating a 5.7-inch quad HD dual-edge Super AMOLED touch-screen display and a pen stylus that lets users add drawings and handwritten text to images, documents and more. When reports of battery fires in some Note7 devices began coming in, the company voluntarily halted sales and shipments of the phones around the world.
Some 2.5 million Note7 handsets had been manufactured before the CPSC recall was issued. About 1 million of those phones are affected by the recall, according to the agency.
The reports of the Note7 battery fires have come at a precarious time for Samsung. Earnings at the world’s largest smartphone maker have been under pressure in the last several years as it battles successful global sales challenges from rival smartphone makers, including Apple and Chinese upstarts, such as Huawei.
In July, the company reported some good news for the second quarter—its highest quarterly operating profit in two years, coming in at $7.19 billion (8.14 trillion Korean Won, KRW). That was an 18 percent increase from 6.9 trillion KRW posted a year earlier and the highest quarterly operating profit posted by the company since it brought in 8.49 trillion KRW in the first quarter of 2014.