Samsung halts Galaxy Note 7 sales over battery problem

Tech giant Samsung Electronics said it will halt the sales of its Galaxy Note 7 smartphones and will prepare replacement devices for phones already sold after finding problems with the battery cell used, according to Reuters.

The company, in a statement, said it will take about two weeks to prepare replacement devices for the phones already sold. It was not clear when new sales of the devices would begin.

At a press conference to announce the recall, Samsung said that 35 cases of the fault have been reported to date, and it estimates the problem affects only 24 in a million devices, which equates to roughly one for every 42,000 sold.

Koh Dong Jin, president of Samsung's mobile business, apologised for any inconvenience the recall may cause customers, but said it was important to put safety first.

An investigation has been launched by the company to see what is happening and what will be done to fix the problem.

Despite the investigation in South Korea, Samsung went ahead with its scheduled launch Thursday of the Galaxy Note 7 in China. Company officials did not reply to questions about how Samsung determined which phones are deemed safe and which require further testing. It did not say if those phones are different from the ones sold in South Korea.

The battery issue is a fresh blow to Samsung's smartphone business that has been on a recovery track. Samsung reported stellar earnings that beat market expectations in the latest quarter and its stock price was at a record high before the Note 7's battery problems.