SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Samsung Electronics has temporarily halted production of its Galaxy Note 7 smartphones, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported Monday, following reports that replacements for the fire-prone phones were also overheating.
Citing an unnamed official at a Samsung supplier, Yonhap said the tech giant took the unprecedented measure for the sake of consumer safety.
The move follows decisions by U.S. phone retailers AT&T and T-Mobile to stop giving new Note 7 smartphones to consumers to replace older models while investigations of the replacement devices are underway.
Samsung’s troubles with the Galaxy Note 7, which was recalled last month after reports of its batteries catching fire, appear not to be over.
Samsung Electronics did not respond to a request seeking confirmation of the Yonhap report.
The Note 7 recall is Samsung’s first smartphone recall and its biggest crisis in years.
The premium phone was hailed by critics as one of the best Android phones when it made its debut in August. Two months later, some consumers called the expensive device the “Death Note” after reports that dozens of the smartphones overheated or caught fire, in some cases damaging property or causing injuries.
Samsung seemed to have the trouble under control when it swiftly announced a global recall two weeks after the phone’s launch. It promised to replace the earlier phones with new Note 7s showing a green battery icon to indicate they are safe to use.
But consumers have reported even the new Note 7 phones with the green battery icon were catching fire.
Last week, authorities had to evacuate a Southwest Airlines flight in Kentucky when a replacement phone began emitting smoke.
Passenger Brian Green, 43, said the device was a Galaxy Note 7 he had picked up from an authorized AT&T retailer Sept. 21 as a replacement for another Note 7 phone he returned when the global recall was announced. Samsung had promised that the replacement models were safe.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission is still investigating the incident and had no further information as of Friday.
Some U.S. mobile carriers have opted to stop selling the new Note 7 phones. AT&T, one of the largest phone retailers in the U.S., stopped giving consumers replacement Note 7s and encouraged customers with Note 7 phones to exchange them for other devices. T-Mobile said on its website on Sunday that it is temporarily suspending all sales of the new Note7 and exchanges for replacement Note7 devices while Samsung investigates multiple reports.
In response to those reports of replacement phones catching fire, Samsung said on its website Friday that it “understands the concern of our carriers and consumers.”
“We continue to move quickly to investigate the reported case to determine the cause and will share findings as soon as possible,” it said. “If we conclude a safety issue exists, we will work with the CPSC to take immediate steps to address the situation.”
YOUKYUNG LEE, AP Technology Writer
Republished with permission from Associated Press