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Update: Samsung’s too-hot-to-handle Galaxy Note 7

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Last month, Samsung ordered a global recall of its Galaxy Note 7 phone following the explosive revelation that a fault with its lithium battery had caused several fires.

In one case, the phone is said to have reduced a jeep to a burnt-out wreck of twisted metal after it was left charging on the passenger seat.

Several airlines and the US’ Federal Aviation Administration have now taken the unprecedented step of banning the phone from being used, charged or stowed in checked luggage on their flights due to the fire risk it presents.

Thankfully, very few of the jumbo Samsung phones have made it into the UK market, as it is yet to officially go on sale here. But if it had, would the current product recall system in the UK be able to cope?

Problems with product recall

Samsung is already worried that people are ignoring its global recall and has reacted by rolling out an update that will cap the phone’s ability to recharge beyond 60%, in the hope that this will prevent any further fires.

And with the current state of the product recall system in the UK, Samsung has every reason to be worried.

Research by UK charity Electrical Safety First has found the success rate of recalls in this country to be rarely more than 10% to 20%, despite the huge risks of electrical shock, fire or even death that faulty electrical items can present.

This means that millions of dangerous items remain in homes across the country. Indeed, almost ​a year since the problems with Whirlpool tumble dryers were identified, there are still millions of people ​who​ have the fire-risk models ​in their homes.

Is my Samsung phone affected?

The Galaxy Note 7 has yet to be officially launched in the UK, so British consumers should be relatively untouched by the recall. Even so, we’ve found several Note 7’s for sale in the UK on eBay and other online platforms.

If you do own the model, you should turn the device off immediately. Samsung has agreed to replace all handsets with a new one and has said it will contact any affected UK customers by the 19 September to arrange this.

If Samsung hasn’t contacted you then you can talk to the retailer or operator who sold you the phone to arrange the exchange. Anyone affected can also contact Samsung customer services on 0330 726 7864.

And if you’ve pre-ordered the Galaxy Note 7, it looks like you’ll have to wait a little longer to get a fault-free model.

If you’re concerned, we’ve produced a guide to your rights during a product recall and how to check if a product you own has been recalled.

Update: 10 October 2016

Production of the newly released Galaxy Note 7 has reportedly been paused following claims that the replacement devices still pose a fire risk.

After Samsung ordered a recall of the Galaxy Note 7 last month, it released a statement explaining that the newly released smartphone was overheating due to a ‘rare’ manufacturing error. The error allowed the battery’s ‘anode-to-cathode’ (negative and positive electrodes) to come into contact.

Replacement devices have since been issued, but then last week a flight in the US was evacuated after a replacement Galaxy Note 7 was found to be emitting smoke in the cabin. This was then followed by another replacement Galaxy Note 7 found to be filling a bedroom with smoke.

Samsung has acknowledged concerns raised about the replacement devices in a statement released on 10 October and has committed ‘move quickly to investigate the reported case to determine the cause and will share findings as soon as possible’. Meanwhile, the launch of the new smartphone in the UK continues to be delayed.

Update: 11 October

Samsung has ceased production of the Galaxy Note 7 smartphone after reports of the devices catching fire.

In a statement today the tech giant said:

‘For the benefit of consumers’ safety, we stopped sales and exchanges of the Galaxy Note 7 and have consequently decided to stop production.’

The Galaxy Note 7 has not been launched in the UK, but if you’ve pre-ordered the Note 7 online from a UK retailer you can cancel your order and get a refund now or any time up to 14 days from the date of delivery.

So, have you had a product recalled before? How did you know about the recall?


Presumably it will be easy to contact people about phone-recalls by leaving a message from the network provider, plus any other publicity. One source says there have been 35 overheated phones out of 2.5 million sold, and that 0.1% of the phones (2500) are actually affected, but a full voluntary recall is in progress.

My first conspiratorial thought was whether someone in the USA had arranged a way to discredit a Korean company in competition with one of theirs, but that thought perished – wouldn’t happen, would it.

I suppose inflammatory phrases like “explosive revelation”, “a burnt-out wreck of twisted metal” are par for the course to get people’s attention, but it all seems a bit phoney when publicising a serious issue that Samsung seem to be tackling responsibly.

Elsewhere I have suggested that all products that could become a safety hazard should be compulsorily registered at the time of purchase by the retailer with essential purchaser’s details, stored in a database, so contact can be made in the event of a repair or recall being necessary. But, as in all other circumstances like this, if purchasers do not respond to best efforts, there seems little that can be done without raiding their premises.

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iPhone 6 components are made worldwide, largely assembled in China (hence “made in China”) from what I can find, and batteries?: Samsung in South Korea. Huizhou Desay Battery in China.”

I don’t know where the information has come from that there have been “4 million exploding batteries”.

It seems to be Samsung’s quality control that has been inadequate. Irrespective of where components are manufactured under contract, the client company remains responsible for their specification, design, performance, and safety. For such a seriously defective device to reach the market place in such volumes shows that corners were cut by the client [as well as by the battery manufacturer] in not examining every stage of production and testing comprehensively. I note [!] that Samsung’s voluntary recall process has been criticised in America and that the US Consumer Product Safety Commission has now stepped in to impose a compulsory recall in order to speed up the return of the devices and the protection of the public from the fire risk. I suggest the UK needs such a government body as recalls and safety alerts here are haphazard and Trading Standards is ineffectual.

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.duncan – sorry for the confusion. I do know its the Galaxy 7 I was pointing out that the iPhone 6 batteries (along with other components and assembly) were also made in the “land of made to a price” (although neither phone is cheap, so the price might be appropriate to normally decent quality).

One report (trusted reviews.com) says that Note 7 batteries were made 60-70% by Samsung SDI (are they in Korea?) and 30-40% by ATL China. Supplies by ATL have been upped to help meet the quantity replacements required. Which one is the land of made to a price and which one produced the defective batteries I wonder? It sounds like it may be the Samsung maufacture.

There is, supposedly, a BIS (BEIS?) initiative dealing with “UK consumer product recall”. A wordy document produced by Lynn Faulds Wood – https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/509125/ind-16-4-consumer-product-recall-review.pdf – seems to be short on real thought-through developed proposals that could be considered for pretty-well immediate implementation.

The key, in my view, is that any product that could present a serious safety hazard, if faulty or subject to inadequate design or manufacture, should be subject to compulsory registration to its purchaser (I’d suggest the obvious way to do this is when the retailer sells it). This information needs to be put on a database that allows the purchaser to be contacted in the event of a necessary repair or recall.

The Governments response seems rather guarded and will set up a “steering group”. Good oh. More time spent talking. Maybe Which? can update us on where this steering group has got to; I assume it is taking part? “https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/500422/bis-16-69-consumer-product-recall-government-response.pdf

What does the document say? “Product registration schemes can be useful in improving traceability in contacting consumers directly but their scope is limited to specific types of product. ” Well, I don’t see why the scope should be limited as suggested. However, the danger with these proposals is they want to do all things to all men. My view is to get something up and running, even if imperfect,add to and modify as time goes on. Start with the most hazardous products (what are they – electrical? domestic appliances?). Get that up and running. AMDEA have a voluntary registration scheme for these – does it work, can it be copied or modified by some other body?) But let’s get something organised or we’ll be here in a year’s time with nothing to show for it – just like no-one has dealt effectively with Indesit/Whirlpool.

I go along with all that, Malcolm. Another case here of ‘the best’ becoming the enemy of ‘the good’ in traditional UK civil service manner.

It seems to me, though, that it is left too much to manufacturers’ discretion as to whether a product is recalled and how to announce that.

It is incredible that the tumble-dryers that burst into flames and the washing machines whose doors randomly explode have not been subject to any effective regulatory control. The Whirlpool CEO must have charmed the pants off the Select Committee because their subsequent silence has been deafening. Trading Standards’ response has been pathetic and given the company a free pass to do as little as they can get away with in their own good time. There must be at least a partial database of affected tumble-dryer owners so some proactive action should be taking place – even if they were all offered a free smoke alarm pending proper redress.

As well as manufacturers making recall or repair announcements Trading Standards and other bodies have a market surveillance responsibility to report possible defective products (RAPEX lists reports) and should ensure they are dealt with. There should be plenty of people to report problems – not least, all those who own and use them, the consumers.

Which? seems reticent at being actively involved – Whirlpool Indesit seems not to have ignited any useful action from them. I have first-hand experience of its unwillingness to engage. The Members Forum has a question from a consumer that they have not answered a week after it was asked. Product recall is a serious issue that a consumers organisation should take a lead on, in my opinion. But by action as well as words.


A US consumer body sends me a daily email on all consumer snippets and recalls for free. Why cannot Which? offer the same service to subscribers?

Does Which? have access to all recall information? And what about the vast majority who are not on Which?’s email database? We need a national recall/repair notifocation system that is retailer-funded and requires compulsory registration at the time of purchase by the seller. In my opinion! 🙂

” I go along with all that, Malcolm. Another case here of ‘the best’ becoming the enemy of ‘the good’ in traditional UK civil service manner.” To quote JW.

As to does Which? have access of course it does the same as you or I. The difference is that rather than leaving it to chance subscribers could choose to be extremely well informed on these matters. and have say a weekly email

Add a few sentences about other matters and bob’s your uncle. BTW this following is what the weekly freebie from the ConsumerReports of the USA serves up.

Recently on Consumerist…

Big Data is watching: “Privacy” is the buzz of our era, but… what even is privacy — and how much control do you actually have over your private data?

Two sides to every story: Former Wells Fargo employees shared their insider views on how the bank’s high-pressure sales goals led a number of employees to fraudulently open up millions of unauthorized accounts.

What’s in your food?: Burger King, KFC, and 14 other restaurant chains are still earning “F” grades for their antibiotics policies.

Speak up: In the wake of ITT Technical Institute’s collapse, we talked to some former students about the school’s high-pressure marketing, underwhelming courses, poor job-placement, and other shady practices.

Don’t do it: AAA says we’re all wasting billions of dollars every year on premium gasoline for vehicles that don’t actually need it, and we should stop.

Some years ago there was a problem with the battery used in various cheap Nokia phones. I read about this, contacted the company and was promptly sent a replacement and a reply-paid envelope to return the suspect battery.

Like many modern smartphones, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 has a battery that is not user replaceable. This means that phones need to be replaced rather than carrying out a simple battery exchange, resulting in greater costs to Samsung and inconvenience to users.

The lithium batteries used in phones, cameras and laptops, etc, store a large amount of power and there are well documented examples of them causing fires and even explosions if there is a manufacturing fault or they are subject to abuse. I would like to see a requirement for rechargeable batteries in consumer goods to be replaceable, for various reasons.

The problem here may partly be that in making a phone waterproof, it cannot be adequately sealed after you or I replace the battery. If this is a trade off between user-replaceable batteries and a phone you can drop down the loo, I wonder what most would prefer? Personally, I would avoid a phone that could not have the battery easily replaced. Is this the market leading the consumer, or a market responding to consumer demand?

I can’t see why high water resistance is such a strong feature of mobile phones. As soon as people realise that their device will not work after immersion they will take more care of it or accept the consequences.

Apparently, a lot of students drop their ‘phones down the loo.

They put them in the back pocket of their jeans / trousers/ shorts/etc and when they visit the closet, rotate their bodies and de-clothe, guess what falls out and where. Perhaps phones should have an attachment for a safety cord. Alternatively, put them somewhere more sensible – anything in a back pocket is vulnerable to pinching.

There is no reason why the battery compartment cannot be sealed so that the electronic circuitry of the phone is unaffected if the battery compartment is affected by water ingress.

Thanks Ian. There is clearly no limit to the advantages of a higher education.

Presumably you don’t want the battery to get wet either?
“Do not spill water, salt water, juice or other fluids on a lithium-ion battery. Doing so may break the protective circuit built into the battery, resulting in the battery being charged with an abnormal current or voltage, and causing overheating, explosion or fire.”

But why do we need water-resistant phones – unless we want to take them swimming, use them in the shower, splash proof rather than IPX7 submersible might be adequate and much easier to seal.

I have been looking at a handheld marine VHF radio belonging to a friend. These are commonly used as backups to fixed sets or as the the sole radio on small craft. It is marked ‘waterproof’. Looking at the design, both the radio and the battery are sealed but no attempt has been made to seal the battery to the radio. The gold-plated contacts providing battery power to the radio are well separated, which will minimise discharge current if the radio is in salt water. If VHF radio manufacturers can make handheld sets that can be used at sea and will survive immersion in salt water, I don’t think it is too much expect smartphone manufacturers to do the same. I see that some of the current VHF handheld phones will float – a sensible feature that might mean that they could be recovered if dropped overboard.

Earlier this year I had to use my smartphone make calls to the emergency services in wet conditions. I believe that every phone on sale should be sufficiently water resistant to survive use in our wet climate, as a minimum.

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Protecting circuitry from moisture has a long history. Military electronic equipment used in WW2 was ‘topicalised’ to afford protection that would survive jungle humidity.

For years, phone manufacturers have been fitting detectors that show if phones have been exposed to moisture. Here, for example, is information about Apple phones etc: https://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT204104

As you say, there is too much focus on thin phones and style. I would rather that the effort went into making phones waterproof and the manufacturers would not need to use liquid contact detectors.

The question is, perhaps, just how much water resistance needs to be designed into a normal mobile phone . Incidentally, “water proof” does not exist; there are degrees of “water resistance” which go from resisting vertical drops to submersible at defined depths. So what should a phone do – resist general weather conditions or chase ever-changing standards put on the market? The consequences are in design complexity, cost and convenience – like battery changing. However, we designed lights for submersion – fountains, swimming pools, in-ground LED lights that sat under puddles – using silicone seals and screws so they could be accessed. The problem is in thin stylish phones they have probably removed the space necessary to achieve an approach like this with success, and you’d almost certainly have to have the battery “professionally” replaced to ensure the integrity of the seal – like watches.

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It looks as if there is still a problem: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-37600014

On the other hand it might just be that there is a small risk associated with use of lithium batteries, which are capable of storing a large amount of energy in a small space.

Thanks for sharing @wavechange, Samsung has reportedly paused production of the smartphone after two reports of smoking replacement handsets in the US. The smartphone is yet to be launched in the UK.

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I bet heads roll in South Korea.

Thanks Duncan, we’ll update the convo now.

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Maybe all Samsung employees in the mobile phone division will be condemned to having a fully charged Note 7 kept in their coat pocket at all times.

It is a great shame to see this kind of problem on such a large scale. I hope at some time a full explanation will be forthcoming so others can learn from it. Akin to burning batteries in airliners; some things just can’t be predicted and we learn by experience.

If I was a conspiracy theorist (or John le Carre thinking up a plot) I’d wonder whether a rival mobile phone manufacturer could have sabotaged Samsung battery production in some way………… No, that wouldn’t happen in the real world…would it. 🙁

There is a chance that the battery in any phone or mobile device could overheat, especially when charging. I suggest charging phones etc. on a non-flammable surface, close to a smoke detector, and make sure chargers are switched off overnight.

Steve says:
13 October 2016

I have the 2nd edition (Green battery) Note7 iv rung ee about 10 times in 3days asking what to do as I had a txt saying power down & return your Note7. Ee customer service don’t know what to do even supervisors say if I don’t want to down grade to a s7 I can keep using it, they are telling people to post them back but royal mail won’t accept them, also the lesser S7 is now been upped to the same price of £50 pm it was £45 6months ago was told by 4 different people today I may keep using my Note7,

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I can understand why the Royal Mail and other carriers should refuse to handle phones with a known battery fault. It’s just common sense.

Samsung aren’t having a good time, are they? And it’s also curious, with some in here saying Apple’s working conditions are poor, that it appears Samsung’s internal culture is ‘toxic’ : http : // www . theregister . co . uk /2016/10/13/leaked_samsung_doc_highlights_toxic_culture/

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Whirlpool and VW Group are facing losses too. Maybe companies have become too big.

If people want ever-cleverer products and gadgets at the prices they seem willing to pay, and in the volumes that generates, then huge investment in development, manufacture and marketing is required. Hence large companies with a large funding base (made up, of course, of large numbers of contributing owners – the shareholders – such as you, me and anyone who relies on investments to feed their pension for example).

If you travel on your overseas hols on a modern aircraft at the price you now pay, could you do that without the likes of a Boeing, Airbus for example? Would we have had affordable cars without the likes of Ford or Morris?

My passport has expired, Malcolm. I used to holiday abroad after attending conferences where the flights had been paid for by the grants and contracts that supported my research. I just paid for the additional accommodation, insurance, food, etc. All legitimate and most of it paid for by the UK and US companies that supported me. People working for these companies often did the same when they travelled. The only problem was that conferences and meetings with industrial partners were often organised in expensive places.

Do you think it’s right that senior staff of companies are paid a lot more than you and I were?

Sorry, wavechange, this is really off topic. I was commenting in reply on the need for large companies, not their pay levels. I’m lost for the connection 🙂

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I always wait before installing a new OS, be that OSX or iOS. I prefer if the early adopters discover the flaws. When I did upgrade to El Capitan I was delighted with the speed increases and – most importantly – its Mail handling. Far superior to its predecessor.

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It’s interesting that Americans are no longer exclusively buying US manufactured appliances. Americans have always preferred top-loaders whereas we prefer to stack our appliances.