- Corey Protin/Tech Insider
Samsung says its exploding smartphone debacle has not spread to China – despite reports of a smartphone catching fire in the country.
On Monday, the South Korean electronics giant said that the Galaxy Note 7 that a Chinese user had claimed caught on fire was damaged by external heating, seeking to assure customers in the world’s top smartphone market the devices being sold there are safe.
The incident comes amid a recall of the Note 7 phones across the globe including South Korea and the United States – but not China – due to faulty batteries causing the devices to catch fire while charging or in normal use.
Samsung has sold 2.5 million phones equipped with the suspect batteries, and the recall may cost it upwards of $1 billion (£770 million).
Late on Sunday, Chinese online financial magazine Caixin cited an internet user’s report that their Note 7 phone had caught fire in what appeared to be the first report in China of a fire involving the handset. If it was due to a battery malfunction, it would mean fresh woes for the company.
But Samsung has said in a statement on its China website its investigation of the phone shows “the damage to this product was caused by external heating”, without elaborating.
Battery maker Amperex Technology Limited said separately on Monday one of its batteries was in the Note 7 phone in question, but added its joint investigation with Samsung determined the incident was not directly linked to a battery made by the China-based firm.
“According to the burn marks on the sample, we surmise that the source of the heating comes from outside the battery, and it’s very likely that there was an external factor causing the heating problem,” the battery maker said in a statement.
A person familiar with the matter told Reuters the phone was damaged by an external heat source, possibly an induction oven or a fan heater. The person was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter and so declined to be identified.
Another person familiar with the matter told Reuters that Samsung SDI Co Ltd was responsible for the faulty batteries that triggered the recall.
Samsung last week announced a recall of 1,858 Note 7 phones in China but those devices were products distributed before the official Sept. 1 launch. The company said the phones sold through the official launch used batteries different from those in reported fires – and so has held off on issuing a recall in the country.