The cause, which Samsung puts down to an isolated battery cell issue, highlights the vital importance of battery management and supply chain management. Those cells are reported to have come from its subsidiary Samsung SDI. The company is now moving to Chinese supplier ATL for all the battery cells in the new Note7.
The handsets have been reported to explode or catch fire, causing damage and worrying authorities such as the Federal Aviation Authority who last week advised airline passengers not to put the phones into baggage in the hold. “There have been a small number of cases reported globally and we are currently conducting a thorough inspection with our suppliers to identify possible affected batteries in the market,” said the company.
Lithium ion batteries have been a major source of problems for airlines, which was one of the reasons Samsung SDI announced a new battery gigafactor in Hungary last month.
“Samsung continues to ensure that consumer safety remains our top priority. We are asking users to power down their Galaxy Note7s and exchange them now,” said Tim Baxter, president of Samsung Electronics America. “New Note7 replacement devices will be issued to exchange program participants upon completion of the CPSC process. In the interim, consumers can return their Note7 for another device.”
Reports that unreturned Note 7s could be remotely deactivated by Samsung at the end of September have not been denied by the company. It says there have been only a small number of reported incidents and that it has identified the affected inventory and stopped sales and shipments of those devices.