When Samsung reintroduced its Note7 flagship smartphone Sept. 21 to replace earlier units that experienced reported battery fires and explosions, the company likely thought the worst of the battery woes were over.
Now, though, after at least two reports have surfaced about fires or explosions involving replacement Note7 handsets that were made after the battery problems were supposedly corrected, the company has suspended production of the recalled phones as it tries to figure out what is happening.
In addition, sales and warranty exchanges of the handsets are also being stopped while investigations into the reports continue.
"We are temporarily adjusting the Galaxy Note7 production schedule in order to take further steps to ensure quality and safety matters," Samsung told eWEEK in an Oct. 10 email reply to an inquiry. Samsung said it is working with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to investigate the recently reported cases involving the replacement Galaxy Note7 smartphones.
"Because consumers' safety remains our top priority, Samsung will ask all carrier and retail partners globally to stop sales and exchanges of the Galaxy Note7 while the investigation is taking place," the company said in the statement. "We remain committed to working diligently with the CPSC, carriers and our retail partners to take all necessary steps to resolve the situation."
In the meantime, the company is asking all owners of an original Galaxy Note7 or replacement Galaxy Note7 to immediately power down their smartphones and exchange them for another Samsung smartphone, including a Galaxy S7 or Galaxy S7 Edge, or seek a full refund where they bought their device. Consumers who have questions about what to do with their phones can go to the company's Website at samsung.com/us/note7recall, or call the company at 1-844-365-6197.
Samsung's Note7 smartphone woes have been lingering now for more than five weeks after reports began coming in about battery fires and explosions just after the devices were first released in late August. Samsung addressed those initial reports by investigating the devices that had fires and starting its own global recall, and then in September cooperated with U.S. regulators at the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) when the agency issued a government recall of a million handsets due to at least 100 reports of fires and explosions from consumers.
However, in late September, after new post-recall phones began being distributed, new reports of battery fires began to surface. The first came from a consumer in China who said that his brand-new, post-recall Note7 smoked and caught fire, while earlier in October another replacement Note7 reportedly began smoking in a Southwest Airlines jet in Texas as the aircraft prepared to depart.
Instead of showing off its flagship Note7 phone to a waiting marketplace, Samsung has been working to fix a worrisome fire problem and hoping that its consumers don't start heading for the exits.
After the Southwest Airlines fire report, Samsung issued a statement on Oct. 7 that said it is investigating the report and will "share findings as soon as possible." The company said it is in close contact with the CPSC about the new report.
"Samsung understands the concern our carriers and consumers must be feeling after recent reports have raised questions about our newly released replacement Note7 devices," the statement said. "If we conclude a safety issue exists, we will work with the CPSC to take immediate steps to address the situation. We want to reassure our customers that we take every report seriously and we appreciate their patience as we work diligently through this process."
The CPSC, which ordered the Samsung recall in September, is launching an investigation into the Note7 fire incident on the jet.
Some 1 million Note7 smartphones were recalled Sept. 15 by the CSPC after at least 92 battery fires or explosions were reported with the new phones due to a defect in the handsets' batteries. The recall, known as Recall No. 16-266, applies to all Galaxy Note7 smartphones sold before Sept. 15, according to the agency. The move came after a series of fires were reported in the lithium-ion battery in the devices, which could "overheat and catch fire, posing a serious burn hazard to consumers," the agency said.
Under the recall, the CPSC advised owners to immediately stop using and power down the recalled Galaxy Note7 devices purchased before Sept. 15 to prevent further fires or injuries.