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.
Samsung Halts Note7 Production Temporarily as Fire Reports Probed
The airline incident followed soon after another recent post-recall report of a problematic Note7 handset. A report about at least one Note7 owner in China who claimed that his new Note7 phone caught fire during charging has also been received since the recall, according to an earlier eWEEK story. Samsung acknowledged the reported incident to eWEEK previously and said it is reviewing the situation. “We are currently contacting the customer and will conduct a thorough examination of the device in question once we receive it,” the company said in a statement.
China was not included in the global Note7 recalls because the batteries in the phones sold there came from a different supplier, according to Samsung.
In September, Samsung advised customers that the new Note7 handsets can be distinguished from the recalled phones by the presence of a green battery charging light on their displays, in contrast to the white charging light indicator included in the original Note7 that had the battery problems. The new green battery icon is visible on the phone’s status bar, on its always-on display screen and on the phone’s power-off prompt screen, which can be accessed by long-pressing the power key.
The green lights appear after software updates are applied to the new phones. Users can also check the original display box that came with their phones to check for a solid black square on the top right of the label on the box. The solid black square indicates that the Note7 is one of the updated, non-defective units.
The Note7, introduced in August, is a 4G LTE phone that features all-new iris scanning capabilities for security, a much-improved integrated S Pen stylus, a first-ever “Secure Folder” feature and other updates aimed at making users more productive and creative. It is slimmer and more rounded compared with the previous version, the Note 5, which debuted in August 2015. The latest device takes many of its features from the company’s S7 and S7 Edge smartphones, which debuted in March.
Highlighting the Note7 is a 5.7-inch quad HD dual-edge Super AMOLED display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 octa-core 64-bit processor, 4GB of LPDDR4 memory, 64GB of on-board storage, a microSD slot for additional storage via memory cards up to 256GB and the Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow operating system.