Samsung to halt Galaxy Note 7 sales and replace phones following battery explosions

Samsung has offered to replace all of the Galaxy Note 7 phones sold globally.

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The Samsung Galaxy Note 7.

Image: CNET

Samsung has announced it will replace all of the Galaxy Note 7 phones sold globally, after multiple reports of batteries exploding in its flagship handset.

Those who bought the phone will be offered new Note 7 handsets free of charge, Samsung mobile boss DJ Koh said in a press conference in Seoul, during which he bowed in apology.

The South Korean tech giant will also halt sales of the device indefinitely until the problem is resolved.

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After the Note 7 went on sale on August 19, multiple Note 7 owners complained that the batteries in their phones were exploding during or after charging.

Thirty five cases of the battery being damaged were reported globally in the period between the launch and September 1, Samsung said, which equals a defect rate of 24 in every one million units.

The South Korean tech giant said the cause of the problem was the cells in the battery. The company said it was working with its supplier to analyze how many batteries are defective. Its main supplier is Samsung SDI, which assembles the cells it buys from lower-tier vendors.

Samsung said it will halt sales indefinitely for the sake of "consumer safety". It expects it will take about two weeks to gather components and materials and prepare new products.

The precise dates when new units will be available will differ, depending on the country, but Samsung estimated they will be available from around September 19.

In South Korea, consumers can also exchange their Galaxy Note 7 for a free Galaxy S7 Edge or get a full refund, if they desire.

"Those who are using the Galaxy Note 7 can get anxious, so we have prepared a software for our service centers that can check whether the battery on their phones is faulty or not," said Koh. "Starting Saturday [in Korea] they can use the software at the centers to check their batteries."

An official reaction from Samsung was expected since the company halted shipment of phones to telcos in South Korea on August 31 and confirmed that they were doing "more quality testing".

Local media reported that the South Korean tech giant was considering recalling the phones.

The problem comes at a tricky time for Samsung, as rival Apple is preparing to unveil its next flagship phone, likely called the iPhone 7, on September 7.

The sales halt, which is expected to last two weeks, effectively damages the chance for Samsung to garner new customers ahead of the iPhone 7's release.

The South Korean tech giant posted its highest profits in two years for the second quarter of the year, thanks to the strong sales of Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, and needs similar performance from Note 7 to continue this momentum.

Read more on the Samsung Galaxy Note 7

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