Samsung Electronics Co. has halted the production of its Note 7 smartphones after customers reported problems with devices manufactured since the company issued a worldwide recall amid reports of exploding batteries — including at least five new incidents under investigation in the U.S.
Samsung temporarily suspended production of its most expensive phone, a person with direct knowledge of the matter said Monday, asking not to be identified because the decision isn’t public.
The move came as wireless carriers including AT&T Inc., T-Mobile US Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and Australia’s Telstra Corp. stopped selling Note 7s following reports of problems with devices thought to be safe.
The South Korean company has been engulfed in controversy after the high-end smartphone hit the market two months ago and customers began posting videos of charred and damaged handsets. Samsung quickly issued a recall and began working with officials worldwide to replace the original shipment of 2.5 million phones. But customers have since said that replacement Note 7s and models with supposedly safe batteries were overheating and catching fire, fueling concerns Samsung hasn’t solved the battery problems after all.
In Farmington, Minnesota, for example, 13-year-old Abby Zuis was in a school foyer Friday holding her replaced Note 7 when she saw the device was burning, said her father Andrew Zuis. Abby dropped the phone, which was extinguished after the school principal kicked it out the school door into a puddle, Zuis said in an interview.
The family had exchanged the phone at a Verizon store in the Mall of America on Sept 21, Zuis said. “It was a new phone, a new charger — supposed to be a safe phone,” Zuis said.
Zuis said Samsung needs to recall the phones. “You’ve got a ticking time bomb. You don’t know when it’s going to go off, or if it’s going to go off,” he said.
Bryan Ma, vice president of devices research for IDC, called it “an ongoing nightmare.”
“You would have hoped that they could have gotten past this already and moved on,” Ma said. “Clearly, it keeps coming back.”