Samsung today issued a statement confirming that more than one million of its Galaxy Note 7 customers affected by reports of overheating, and sometimes explosions, are now using devices with batteries "that are not vulnerable to overheating and catching fire" (via Recode). Following the initial wave of reports, earlier in the month Samsung issued an "unprecedented" recall of 2.5 million Note 7 devices less than a month after the smartphone launched.
According to the company, the one million figure includes devices issued as replacements in the recall, as well as Note 7 handsets originally sold in China that Samsung has deemed safe because "they used batteries that came from a different supplier to those that could overheat." Still, there are reports within China of exploding Note 7 phones that the company is looking into, which it says is not at the fault of the battery.
Samsung, in a statement issued on its China website, apologised to its consumers for failing to providing a detailed explanation why the smartphones on sale in China were safe, as they used batteries that came from a different supplier to those that could overheat. "Currently, the brand new Note 7 products that have been swapped in overseas markets are using identical batteries to those that were supplied and used for the Chinese version," Samsung said.
Samsung said it takes reports of Note 7 fires in China very seriously and has conducted inspections on such devices. Batteries for the burnt phones were not at fault, Samsung said, adding its conclusion was also backed up by independent third-party testing.
Despite the company's work at remedying the issue with the Note 7, reports are still coming in of overheating on replacement handsets. A few users in the United States and South Korea have reported that new Note 7 smartphones, which Samsung sent as replacements for the original malfunctioning devices, are "too hot to place next to the ear during a phone call." Samsung said that this specific issue "does not pose a safety concern" like the original recall, and compared it to normal "temperature fluctuations" on any modern smartphone.
“There have been a few reports about the battery charging levels and we would like to reassure everyone that the issue does not pose a safety concern,” the South Korean giant said in a statement Wednesday, adding that the replacements are operating normally. “In normal conditions, all smartphones may experience temperature fluctuations.”
In one case, Samsung has agreed to replace a customer's replacement Note 7, but it's not clear how widespread the faulty replacement device issue is currently. According to the company, more than 60 percent of Note 7 handsets have been exchanged in the U.S. and South Korea through the recall program, which could cost it between $1 and $5 billion, while 90 percent of customers chose to get a new Note 7 instead of seeking a refund or getting a separate smartphone model.
Samsung's problems with the Note 7 reportedly began when the company decided to push suppliers in order to meet an earlier deadline after learning that this year's iPhone 7 would have no major design changes. Earlier in September, Samsung America president and COO Tim Baxter apologized to consumers, stating that "we did not meet the standard of excellence that you expect and deserve."