Samsung said Thursday it would resume sales of new Galaxy Note 7 smartphones in South Korea this week after providing new “battery-problem-free” phones, hoping to turn the page on the troubled device following an ongoing global recall prompted by battery explosions.
The company on September 2 suspended sales of the oversized “phablet” and recalled 2.5 million units shipped worldwide after faulty batteries caused the phones to explode while charging.
With the recall underway in 10 nations where the device had been launched, 60 percent of users in Samsung’s key market, the US, had swapped their handsets for replacements provided by the company, as of Tuesday.
Eighty percent of Note 7 customers are expected to complete the exchange this week in South Korea, where sales of new phones equipped with fault-free batteries will resume on Saturday, Samsung said in a statement.
The new Note 7 will gradually hit stores in other markets, including some European countries on October 28, the company said.
The unprecedented recall, the first involving Samsung’s flagship smartphone, has dealt a blow to the reputation of the South Korean electronics giant — also the world’s largest smartphone maker.
With photos of charred phones flooding social media, Samsung is desperate to avoid a full-blown disaster that could cost billions and damage its image further.
But customers have reportedly complained that the replacement devices were overheating during calls and its batteries draining too quickly, a sign that the company’s troubles are not over yet.
A Samsung spokeswoman acknowledged the concerns but said they only amounted to “a few individual cases”.
“We would like to reassure everyone that new Note 7 phones are operating properly and pose no safety concerns,” she said, adding the firm was working to address the complaints.
The Note 7 was meant to kick start growth this year as Samsung struggles to boost sales, squeezed by Apple in the high-end sector and Chinese rivals in the low-end market.
But the recall has piled more pressure on the company, sparking alarm among global air carriers and safety regulators, which banned the device on flights.
Samsung is also facing a class-action lawsuit in the US state of New Jersey over complaints that some of its washing machines had exploded in their owners’ homes.
The company said Wednesday it was in discussions with the US Consumer Product Safety Commission to address the concerns of affected customers.