Samsung is facing monumental losses after announcing it is recalling the Galaxy Note 7 after numerous reports of the smartphone catching fire. The company has stated that they believe defunct batteries are behind the explosions, which have occurred during or after charging.
After the reports came in from the US and South Korea, the South Korean electronics company has decided to allow customers to swap the potentially dangerous phone for a new one, as they have been unable to establish which ones were affected out of the 2.5 million models sold. They have stated it will take around two weeks for replacements to be prepared.
Samsung mobile business president Koh Dong-jin said that “There was a tiny problem in the manufacturing process, so it was very difficult to figure out. It will cost us so much it makes my heart ache. Nevertheless, the reason we made this decision is because what is most important is customer safety.”
The Note 7 was launched on August 19th and has generally had positive reviews from critics, with features such as an iris scanner that allows users to unlock their phone using their eye, being a big hit with users. The model has now been sold in 10 countries, though different suppliers have provided the batteries.
Zoe Kleinman, technology reporter for the BBC made comment via the BBC website; “This is an extraordinary decision for a tech giant to make based on so few reported incidents – Samsung says it is aware of only 35 cases worldwide.
Stories about exploding smartphone batteries do make the news from time to time – lithium ion batteries are flammable but very widely used.”
Some users have taken to social media to air their grievances with the phone, including Youtube user Ariel Gonzalez who uploaded a video showing a Note 7 that had apparently caught fire, melting the rubber casing and damaging the screen in the process. He explained that he had had the phone less than two weeks when it had caught fire soon after he unplugged it from the official Samsung charger.
The recall is very bad news for the company, who had reported above-expectation profits only last month. They had predicted continued demand for their smartphones and tablets for the rest of the year, so these events are likely to upset that balance quite a bit – not least considering rival Apple is set to launch a new iPhone very soon.
Geoff Blaber, analyst at CCS Insight, says that “The timing is as bad for Samsung as it is positive for Apple. If consumers are facing a lengthy wait, it undoubtedly opens the door for its closest rival. The pressure is definitely on Samsung. It’s a huge amount of inventory that it needs to rebuild.”