Two weeks after releasing the much-hyped Galaxy Note7 smartphone, Samsung is in serious damage control.
The tech giant is recalling up to 50,000 of the phones in Australia due to a battery cell issue that can cause the device to burst into flames.
Samsung also says the smartphone will be pulled from sale by Telstra, Optus and Vodafone following 35 reported fire cases.
The company has identified a flaw in the phone’s battery manufacturing process that, under certain circumstances, could cause the battery to explode or ignite.
Koh Dong-jin, head of the South Korean company’s smartphone business, has had to make an embarrassing apology for the debacle, which will affect markets including South Korea, the US and Australia.
It will not affect China, where models feature a different battery.
The executive said Samsung had sold 2.5 million of the premium devices so far.
The manufacturer plans to replace not only phones with faulty batteries sold to consumers, but also retailer inventories and units in transit.
“I can’t comment on exactly how much the cost will be, but it pains my heart that it will be such a big number,” Koh said.
The scale of the recall is unprecedented for Samsung, which prides itself on its manufacturing prowess.
While recalls in the smartphone industry do happen, including for rival Apple, the nature of the problem for the Galaxy Note7 is a serious blow to Samsung’s reputation.
Samsung says the move to pull the Galaxy from Australia is a mostly precautionary measure as there have been no reported incidents here.
The company advises owners of the Galaxy Note7 to return to the point of purchase.
Samsung says in a statement: “Don’t worry if your phone was purchased overseas or through an importer, you will still qualify for the replacement.
“At this stage, we don’t care where you bought it. Just get it back to us. Customers are our number one priority.
“In response to recently reported cases of the new Galaxy Note7, we conducted a thorough investigation and found a battery cell issue.
“To date there have been no reported incidents in Australia. However, because our customers’ safety is an absolute priority at Samsung, we have stopped sales of the Galaxy Note7.
“For customers who already have Galaxy Note7 devices, we will provide a resolution of their choice including a replacement, repair or refund over the coming weeks.
“We acknowledge the inconvenience this may cause in the market but this is to ensure that Samsung continues to deliver the highest quality products to our customers.
“We will have an update for Australian customers early next week.”
The recall comes at a bad time for Samsung, with rival Apple set launch a competing iPhone 7 handset in San Francisco next week.
What you need to know about the Galaxy Note7
Is the device safe?
Samsung says there are no reported cases of malfunction in Australia. If you have concerns Samsung recommends you complete a data back-up and return the device to the place of purchase to talk through your options. Support for how to complete a data back-up can be found here.
What is the issue?
It’s with the battery enclosed in the device.
What options are available?
Go to your place of purchase to discuss your options. This may include a replacement device from Samsung once replacement stock is available. Samsung’s expecting new stock in the coming weeks.
If you do not wish to wait for a replacement, you can discuss other Samsung phone options or a full refund of the purchase price from your place of purchase or directly from Samsung.
If purchased from Optus, Telstra or Vodafone, a temporary replacement device will be made available at no cost while you are waiting for a remedy to be provided.
Will the replacement you receive be a new or refurbished device?
The replacement device will be new.
How long will it take to receive a permanent Note7 replacement?
Samsung expects stock to be received in the coming weeks. You will be kept updated regarding delivery and availability.
If you want a refund, will you get it?
Yes. Customers will be issued with a full refund for their purchase price according to their purchase invoice.
Do you have to return your phone?
Refund: Yes, in order to receive a refund, your original device must be returned.
Exchange: Yes, in order to receive a replacement device, your original device must be returned.
Do you need to return all your accessories that came in the box?
Will your device explode or catch fire?
There are no reported cases in Australia however Samsung recommends you complete a data back-up and return the device to the place of purchase to talk through your options.
How many cases have been reported?
There are no reported cases in Australia. Globally, Samsung has received 35 reports as of September 1.
Is the issue limited to Note7, or does this affect other models?
The Note7 is the only affected model.
What if you purchased your device online?
You will be provided with a voucher code for $100 which you can use towards a purchase of a Galaxy S7 or S7 edge as well as a full refund.