Report: Samsung to recall phones after explosion claims

Samsung will issue a global recall of the Galaxy Note 7 smartphone as soon as this weekend after its investigation on explosion claims found batteries were at fault, according to South Korea's Yonhap News.

Samsung Electronics refused comment on the report on Friday. It said it was conducting the inspection with its partners.

"We will share the findings as soon as possible. Samsung is fully committed to providing the highest quality products to our consumers," the company said in a statement.

The company was due to hold a news conference later Friday about the findings of its investigation and plans for the Galaxy Note 7.

Samsung launched the Note 7 on Aug. 19 in some markets, including South Korea and the U.S. Shipments were delayed in South Korea this week for extra quality control testing after reports that batteries of some of the jumbo smartphones exploded while they were being charged.

South Korean high school teacher Park Soo-Jung said she rushed to buy the Galaxy Note 7, pre-ordering and then activating it on Aug. 19, its official launch date.

The 34-year-old living in the port city of Busan said by email that she was bruised when she rushed out of bed after her phone burst into flames, filling her bedroom with smoke smelling of chemicals.

Park said she's having second thoughts about buying another newly released tech gadget, especially after losing all her personal data stored in the destroyed Note 7.

An employee of a Samsung service center in Busan who visited Park's school to retrieve the scorched phone confirmed that her Galaxy Note 7 caught fire and said the sample was sent to the company's headquarters.

Park said Samsung offered her a full refund and compensation of 300,000 won ($269). She did not accept the compensation.

"If the exploded phone in flame was near my head, I would not have been able to write this post," she said in a popular online forum on Thursday, where she shared a photo of the scorched Note 7 and described dousing the burning phone with water.

Citing an unnamed company official, Yonhap said Samsung's investigation has found that faulty batteries have caused phones to catch fire. It said Samsung estimates that the number of Galaxy Note 7 phones with the faulty battery accounts for "less than 0.1 percent" of the products in the market. Samsung is discussing how to resolve the issue with Verizon and its other partners, the official told Yonhap.

SK Telecom, South Korea's largest mobile carrier, said about 400,000 units of the Galaxy Note 7 were estimated to have been sold in South Korea.

Samsung beat expectations with stellar earnings in the latest quarter and its stock price was at a record high before news emerged of the Note 7's battery problems. The company's shares rose 0.8 percent early Friday after falling 2 percent the day before.

Despite the investigation in South Korea, Samsung went ahead with its scheduled launch Thursday of the Galaxy Note 7 in China. Company officials did not reply to questions about how Samsung determined which phones are deemed safe and which require further testing. It did not say if those phones are different from the ones sold in South Korea.

Yonhap News said five or six explosions were reported by consumers, including Park's case, citing pictures and reports of severely damaged phones shared in local online communities, social media and YouTube. Other photos and accounts, other than Park's, could not be immediately verified.

There were no confirmed reports of any injuries.

It is unusual for Samsung to confirm a delay in sales of a device, and rare for it to cite a quality issue.

"Every year, there have been accidents of battery explosions but it is the first time that six or seven cases happened within such a short period after the launch of a new product," said Ha Joon-doo, an analyst at Shinhan Investment Corp.

The Galaxy Note 7 smartphone is the latest iteration of Samsung's Note series that feature a giant screen and a stylus and usually inherit designs and features of the Galaxy S series that debut in the spring. Samsung also added an iris scanner to the Note 7, which lets users unlock the phone by detecting patterns in the eyes.

Even before the issue of battery explosions emerged, supplies were not keeping up with higher-than-expected demand for the smartphone.


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