- What really happened?
After days of rumors and speculation, Samsung on Friday announced that it will halt sales of its Galaxy Note 7 smartphone and replace customers’ existing devices with new units in the coming weeks. The problem? Explosions.
Around the world, customers have reported 35 incidents with the phone’s battery since the phone shipped in late August. Photos of exploded Note 7s have circulated around the web in the past week.
“In response to recently reported cases of the new Galaxy Note 7, we conducted a thorough investigation and found a battery cell issue,” reads an official statement from Samsung. “To date (as of September 1) there have been 35 cases that have been reported globally and we are currently conducting a thorough inspection with our suppliers to identify possible affected batteries in the market.”
- Exchange offers by Samsung
In the U.S., Note 7 owners can exchange their device through the carriers and get a $25 gift card or credit toward their phone bill. Starting next week, customers can trade their current device for a new Note 7. Until then, they can exchange it in for a Galaxy S7 or a Galaxy S7 Edge and be refunded the difference in price, including the price of any Note 7 accessories purchased. The trade-ins can be made by visiting the carrier’s store in which the device was purchased, or by calling 1-800-SAMSUNG.
While there’s no such thing as good timing when it comes to exploding phone batteries, the problem comes at a particularly bad moment for Samsung. Next week, Apple, Samsung’s biggest competitor, is expected to announce its next iPhone. The Note 7, which launched in August and received rave reviews from most tech publications, was supposed to be Samsung’s answer to the new iPhone. A reported 2.5 million have sold so far.
- The battery and the explosion
In this teardown by iFixit, the 3,500mAh lithium-ion battery inside the Note 7 appears to be made by Samsung itself. However, according to a Samsung spokesperson, Samsung is working with a number of companies to manufacture the Note 7 batteries.
“In order to meet market demands, we are working with multiple suppliers,” says a Samsung spokesperson. “We are currently working with all of them to protect our customers’ safety first and foremost.”
The phone recall comes on the heels of a massive “hoverboard” recall earlier this year, as many scooters had similar problems with exploding batteries. Many of those problems were attributed to cheaper batteries and related components. Batteries made by larger companies such as Samsung are often considered safer.
This story will be updated with Note 7 trade-in directions when they become available.