As reported by Emirates 24|7 over the weekend, Samsung has recalled its new Galaxy Note 7 smartphone after reports that it can overheat and even explode.
In a statement, the firm told this website that the South Korean giant had “conducted a thorough investigation and found a battery cell issue.”
According to Samsung, “there have been 35 cases that have been reported globally” as of September 1, among the 2.5 million Note 7 smartphones produced.
Even as that may look like a negligible percentage, the fact remains that batteries are one of the most invincible links in the smartphone chain, and the typical fail rate is 1 in tens of millions.
Why, then, are the Note 7 batteries exploding at an unprecedented rate, and what should you do if you’ve bought one here in the UAE?
In a video published in 2015, experts at UCL Chemical Engineering show video documentation of what happens when lithium-ion batteries overheat and explode.
A number of factors can contribute to the overheating of a battery, and therein lies Samsung’s dilemma.
“We are currently conducting a thorough inspection with our suppliers to identify possible affected batteries in the market. However, because our customers’ safety is an absolute priority at Samsung, we have stopped sales of the Galaxy Note7,” the firm says.
Not many would have seen this coming considering that Samsung is the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer, and should have that process streamlined and risk-free years ago.
Not just that, the Korean firm’s battery manufacturing unit, Samsung SDI, has been in business since 2000 and claims to be the world’s largest supplier of lithium-ion rechargeable batteries.
The explosion of a Li-ion battery is usually the result of overheating, with experts pegging the break point at 100°C.
In the Gulf, where summer temperatures can go up to 50°C, and the metal casing can get hotter outside, it would not take much for a battery (in any smartphone) to get close to that level if left outdoors for long.
So, precaution is naturally warranted.
The fact that, unlike desktop and some laptops that have in-built fans to cool the batteries, smartphones do not have that luxury given their small size.
There were reports of a charging Tesla car going up in flames earlier this year, and its lithium-ion battery is the prime suspect in that case.
Of course, today’s devices come equipped with a circuit-breaker chip that cuts off power to the battery once a battery is fully charged, thus preventing overcharging and, therefore, overheating.
Problems could, however, occur if this chip is faulty or the cut-off temperature has been set at a higher limit.
Samsung notes that it is leaving no stone unturned to rectify the situation.
“Samsung is committed to producing the highest quality products and we take every incident report from our valued customers very seriously,” it says.
For customers who’ve bought a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 device here in the UAE or anywhere else in the Gulf, the firm will replace the device free of charge.
“For customers who already have Galaxy Note7 devices in the Gulf market, we will voluntarily replace their current device. To ensure a seamless replacement experience for our customers in the Gulf region, Samsung Gulf Electronics is currently reviewing the optimal process to perform the replacement,” it said in the statement sent to Emirates 24|7.
Users may want to call the firm’s customer service centre at 800-SAMSUNG (800-7267864) in UAE and Oman, or 8000-GSAM (8000-4726) in Bahrain, 183 (CALL) 2255 in Kuwait and 800 (CALL) 2255 in Qatar for latest information.
“We acknowledge the inconvenience this may cause in the market but this is to ensure that Samsung continues to deliver the highest quality products to our customers. We are working closely with our partners to ensure the replacement experience is as convenient and efficient as possible,” the firm said.