Samsung halts shipments of Galaxy Note 7 on reports of exploding batteries

It seems software glitches might be the least of Samsung’s problems with the new Galaxy Note 7.

The South Korean electronics vendor was forced to halt shipments of the high-end phone Thursday due to increasing reports of exploding batteries. The news knocked nearly $7 billion from its market cap as shares fell 2 percent to hit two-week lows.

The South Korean news agency Yonhap reported five claims of the phone exploding or catching fire while being charged, The Wall Street Journal reported, and users took to social media sites to post photos and videos of burned phones. Samsung declined to comment, but the Journal said South Korean carriers KT and SK Telecom confirmed that shipments had been postponed.

The news follows reports earlier this week that some users had complained that the Galaxy Note 7 was prone to crashing, bootloops or even freezing that leaves it inoperable.

Software glitches aren’t all that unusual in new smartphones, but a problem with combustible batteries would pose serious threat to the world’s largest smartphone vendor at a critical time. The Galaxy Note 7 launched in the U.S. less than two weeks ago, and Samsung said demand has outpaced supply and forced the company to push back the launch in some markets.

The release of the Galaxy Note 7 follows the launch earlier this year of the Galaxy S7 Edge, which was the top-selling Android phone in the world during the first half of 2016. Indeed, Samsung made the three best-selling Android devices during the first six months of 2016: The S7 Edge shipped 13.3 million units, the Galaxy J2 shipped 13 million units, and 11.8 million Galaxy S7 handsets were shipped.

Samsung remains the No. 1 smartphone vendor worldwide, and it is positioned to continue that momentum with the Galaxy Note 7. But the smartphone market has become extremely competitive as growth has slowed due in part to extended upgrade cycles and a relative lack of innovative, high-tech features. Any significant problems with Samsung’s new phone will surely be magnified next week, when Apple is expected to introduce a new flagship iPhone.

For more:
- see this Wall Street Journal report
- read this Reuters story

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