Samsung, the biggest smartphone manufacturer in the world, today announced a full recall of the Galaxy Note7, its latest flagship phone. The recall is being attributed to the phone’s battery, after reports surfaced that some models can spontaneously catch fire while plugged in and charging.
According to Samsung, 35 devices have been confirmed with the issue, which comes out to just 24 per million Note7s sold – a miniscule fraction of a percent. It’s a tiny portion, but it’s big enough: The company has already halted sales in Korea and is working with carriers in other regions to do the same. The details of the recall are still up in the air, but Samsung says preparations will take about two weeks, and rollout times for replacement phones will vary by country.
The Korean news agency Yonhap, which reported the likelihood of the recall yesterday, is quoting an anonymous Samsung official who says that most Note7s aren’t even at risk. “Products installed with the problematic battery account for less than 0.1 percent of the entire volume sold,” the official said. “The problem can be simply resolved by changing the battery, but we’ll come up with convincing measures for our consumers.”
However convincing, those measures can’t address the timing of the recall, which is unfortunate: Apple is slated to announce its latest iPhone on September 7.
The unprecedented scope of the move also clashes with what Yonhap’s source is claiming. Standard procedure for most companies in these circumstances is to mitigate fallout by restricting the recall to as few devices as possible. In this case, only China is being excluded, since according to Samsung, the Note7 models there use different batteries that aren’t susceptible to overheating.
We’re huge fans of the Galaxy Note7. It took the top spot in our comparison of the best smartphones you can buy thanks to a bevy of useful features, including the now-maligned battery. We’ll update our coverage as new details are released and the true scope of this recall – and the effects it will have on one of the most critically lauded devices Samsung has ever released – comes into focus.