US product safety and testing non-profit organisation Consumer Reports has called for Samsung to initiate an official recall of all of its Galaxy Note 7 smartphones, following a halt in sales caused by some phablets exploding while charging.
Samsung suspended sales of its new flagship smartphone on Friday, the day of its official launch in the UK, after 35 confirmed explosions led to a fault being identified within batteries supplied by one of a few companies used in the Note 7.
The top-end phablet had already gone on sale in South Korea and the US, with Samsung having sold 1m of them and made a total of 2.5m. But the company stopped short of initiating a full recall, saying that it would “voluntarily replace their current device with a new one over the coming weeks”.
“Samsung should immediately initiate an official recall with the Consumer Product Safety Commission given the serious nature of the safety problem it identified with the Galaxy Note7,” said Maria Rerecich, Consumer Reports director of electronics testing.
Consumer Reports discovered that despite a halt in sales from Samsung, some retailers were still offering the phone for sale. It also contacted the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which analyses reported faults and determines if corrective action is required, including a full-scale recall, and found that no such action had been taken by Samsung on Friday.
A full recall under CPSC would require the return of all smartphones sold and an immediate halt of sales from all retail outlets, not just from the manufacturer.
While recalls of consumer electronics and other products are quite common, affecting almost all major manufacturers including Apple, this is the largest-scale product defect Samsung has had in recent memory.
Koh Dong-jin, president of Samsung’s mobile business, said: “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.”
The Note 7’s defects come on the eve of arch rival Apple’s unveiling of its next iPhone, and will likely set the availability of the Samsung device back at least two weeks, possibly denting consumer appetite for the 5.7in smartphone.
While the issues with the Note 7 are certainly embarrassing, industry sources say that should the company be able to rectify the issues with the phablet, the launch delay and product swap is manageable. The Note 7 is a high-profile device for Samsung, but its sales are likely to be a fraction of those generated by the company’s smaller and cheaper top-end devices the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge smartphones.