Nokia offers to replace 46 million batteries

Mobile-phone maker has offered to replace batteries at risk from overheating, but denies its actions constitute a product recall

Nokia has offered to replace 46 million mobile-phone batteries because they are at risk from overheating — but the world's biggest mobile-phone manufacturer denies its actions constitute a product recall.

Louise Ingram, communications manager for Nokia, spoke on the issue this morning, following the company's overnight announcement that it will "voluntarily replace" up to 46 million defective batteries.

According to Ingram, Nokia's actions are not a recall: "[The global notice] was issued last night from our headquarters in Helsinki, Finland. It's been issued around the world. It's a voluntary product advisory on behalf of Nokia... It is not a recall."

"We are advising customers that, if they have any concerns and they want to check if the BL-5C battery that they have is one of the batteries in this particular batch, all they have to do is go to an international website that we've set up and type in the 26-digit product code on the back of that battery," said Ingram.

Customers should be informed instantly if affected and "if that is the case we will take their details and courier out a new replacement battery free of charge", Ingram said.

There are approximately 300 million BL-5C batteries worldwide in Nokia handsets. Of these, 46 million manufactured between December 2005 and November 2006 by Matsushita, parent company of Panasonic and one of 14 manufacturers that supplies batteries to Nokia, may be defective.

"Our understanding is that, in the few cases of overheating that have occurred, [they] have only happened when the battery has been charging — and has been recharged more than a hundred times — that's what we've seen so far," Ingram said.

"While no serious injuries or property damage have been reported, Nokia... [has] a very good reputation in the market for our honesty, our reliability, the fact that we are transparent with consumers and so that's why we felt that it was important to share this," said Ingram.

However, Ingram would not confirm that it was safe to use affected batteries while waiting for a replacement battery to be delivered.

"If they have any concerns they can swap to another phone [or] we'll send them a new battery free of charge," Ingram advised customers.

Of the approximately one billion Nokia handsets worldwide, close to a third have been supplied with a BL-5C 300 battery, said Ingram. This means that around 4.6 percent of Nokia customers worldwide have an affected battery.

This news follows on from Toshiba's recent announcement that they would replace potentially dangerous notebook batteries for the third month in a row.