Samsung recalls 1 million Galaxy Note 7 smartphones in the US due to fire risk

Posted on 21 Sep 2016 by Aiden Burgess, Tim Brown

Samsung has recalled 1 million of its Galaxy Note 7 smartphones sold in the US after reports of the new models' batteries overheating.

Samsung is the world's largest consumer electronics company. Image cropped & courtesy of Flickr - Nan Palmero
Samsung is the world’s largest consumer electronics company. Image cropped & courtesy of Flickr – Nan Palmero

Samsung announced the recall after receiving 92 reports in the US of batteries in the Galaxy Note 7 overheating, which included 26 reports of burns and 55 incidents of property damage

The recall was made in conjunction with the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSR).

Earlier this month the world’s largest smartphone maker said it would recall all Note 7 smartphones equipped with batteries found to be fire-prone and halted their sales in 10 markets.

Samsung has said it has stopped all sales and shipments of its Galaxy Note 7 smartphones and is working with government agencies and smartphone carriers around the world to provide refunds and exchanges for the phones which have been shown to have a propensity to overheat.

“There was a tiny problem in the manufacturing process, so it was very difficult to figure out,” the president of Samsung’s mobile business Koh Dong-jin told reporters.

“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,” he said.

Yesterday Samsung said that 500,000 replacement devices have arrived in the US and will be at carrier and retail stores from today (Wednesday, 21 September).

Why are the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 batteries overheating?

The reason the Samsung smartphones overheated could be due to the fact that the Korean tech giant may have accidentally applied too much pressure on the batteries when squeezing them into position within the phone casing.

According to an unpublished preliminary report sent to Korea’s Agency for Technology and Standards (obtained by Bloomberg), Samsung had a manufacturing error that “placed pressure on plates contained within battery cells”, which “brought negative and positive poles into contact.”

If the poles came into contact, it is believed that this resulted in highly flammable electrolyte within the lithium ion battery packs to heat and eventually catch fire or explode.

The Galaxy Note 7 smartphone’s susceptibility to catching fire and subsequent recall has damage the image and reputation of the Samsung, which was counting on its Galaxy Note 7 to bolster sales in the face of rival Apple’s launch of new devices such as the iPhone 7.

Some analysts have suggested the recall could cost Samsung nearly $5bn in lost revenue this year.

A YouTube user named Ariel Gonzalez uploaded a video (below) on 29 August reportedly showing a Galaxy Note 7 with a burnt rubber casing and damaged screen. He said the handset “caught fire” shortly after he unplugged the official Samsung charger, less than a fortnight after purchasing it.