Samsung: No battery problems reported in China
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA >> Samsung Electronics said Monday that its investigation into the first report of a Galaxy Note 7 fire in China found no battery problem, reducing concerns that its smartphone crisis had expanded to the world’s largest mobile phone market.
The South Korean tech giant said it was not able to investigate a second reported fire because it could not obtain that phone.
The two accounts of Galaxy Note 7 fires appeared on Chinese social media and were widely reported by Chinese and South Korean media, raising alarms because the South Korean tech giant earlier said no Note 7 recall was necessary in China because the phones sold there did not have the battery manufacturing error that caused fires in dozens of phones sold in other countries.
Samsung announced the global recall of 2.5 million of its flagship smartphones just two weeks after they were launched.
It is struggling to restore consumer trust after 92 reports of Note 7 batteries that overheated or caught fire in the United States, which prompted an official government recall there last week. The company began shipping new Note 7 phones to replace the defective ones this week in South Korea.
The Chinese battery supplier for Note 7 phones sold in China said Monday the fires there appeared to be different from those in other countries.
“We believe the heat problem comes from outside the battery. A very large likelihood exists that other factors gave rise to the heat problem,” Amperex Technology Ltd. said. It gave no indication of what may have caused the problems.
Samsung said its investigation suggested external heat had damaged the phone. South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency and other South Korean media said it may have been an effort by consumers to tarnish Samsung.
Samsung said it tried to obtain the phone involved in the second reported fire, but was not able to, correcting its earlier statement that it was investigating both cases.
The Galaxy Note 7 recall has been Samsung Electronics’ biggest crisis in recent years. Samsung has faced criticism that it failed to coordinate with government safety regulators and did not give clear information to consumers. Many airlines have banned use of the Note 7, saying it is a flight hazard.
In its initial announcement on Sept. 2, Samsung did not say whether consumers could continue to use the phones without danger. A few days later, it urged them to immediately turn off the phones. And last week, Samsung said it is rolling out a software update to the Note 7 phones that will limit the battery charge to 60 percent but didn’t say whether all phones would automatically receive it.