Nokia: overheating battery issue not a '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.

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 with ZDNet Australia 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 Australian 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 Web site that we've set up and type in the 26-digit product code on the back of that battery.


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 told ZDNet Australia.

Customers should be informed instantly if affected,
once a product code is entered on Nokia's Web site


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.

"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.

Ingram couldn't say exactly how many Australians might be affected or how long it would take for them to receive a replacement battery. Furthermore she wouldn't comment on how many Nokia handsets have been sold in Australia.

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.

The battery recall Web site is http://www.nokia.com/batteryreplacement/. Australian customers can also contact Nokia customer care on 1300 366 733 (8am - 8pm AEST, seven days a week) if they have further questions.

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