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Galaxy Note 7 users told to stop using devices due to fire risk

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By Catherine Hardy
Galaxy Note 7 users told to stop using devices due to fire risk

The longer this story lingers, the more it will etch itself in people's minds

Jahan Rasty CEO, Real World Forensic Engineering

A US government safety agency has urged all consumers to stop using Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones due to fire risk.

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission said it was working on an official federal recall of the devices and urged users to turn them off in the meantime.

It follows reports that the phone’s batteries have combusted during charging and normal use.

South Korea

Samsung has asked South Korean customers to stop using the Galaxy Note 7.

The tech company says it is recalling the phone due to faulty batteries which are prone to catching fire.

What does this mean for Samsung?

The US government action heralds more fallout for the South Korean manufacturer.

Commentators say the company, which prides itself on its manufacturing prowess, may take a financial hit from the recall and lose customers who are concerned about the quality of the flagship device.

Samsung has asked customers to turn off their Note 7 phones immediately.

Last week, the company voluntarily issued an unprecedented recall for 10 markets, including South Korea and the US.

The scale of the recall is expected to be unprecedented. An estimated 2.5 million of the devices have been sold worldwide.

Samsung shares closed down 3.9 percent on Friday.

What can users do?

Samsung says users in the US can exchange their phones for one of several models and get a 25 dollar gift card.

In a statement posted online, the company says it will also offer rental phones to customers who hand in their Galaxy Note 7.

It says it plans to have devices with a safe battery ready to give customers affected by the recall starting on September 19.

Global airline ban

Aviation authorities and airlines from North America to Europe and Asia have issued bans or guidance on the phones.

On Thursday, the US Federal Aviation Administration said travellers should not use or charge them while in the air, or stow them in checked luggage.

That prompted the world’s three largest airlines (by passenger traffic) – American, Delta and United – to tell passengers at the gate and on board aircraft to keep the phones switched off until they are off the aircraft.

Companies ranging from Singapore Airlines and Qantas Airways to Air France KLM have brought in similar bans.

Flying is typically a high-use environment for the devices, experts say.

The use of lithium-ion batteries

The airline industry is trying to manage the use of lithium-ion batteries.

They are used in many devices from phones and laptops to toys and are known to combust.

Major airlines banned hoverboards during the 2015 Christmas holiday season for the same reason. Earlier this year, the UN’s aviation agency banned shipments of lithium-ion batteries as cargo on passenger planes.

There have been at least 171 incidents of smoke, fire, extreme heat or explosion involving batteries since 1991, according to an FAA report.

A camera short-circuited and started a small fire in an overhead locker of an American Airlines flight in September, 2013, the report said.

What they are saying

“The cost of the recall is going to be astronomical. They have to compensate people, fix the problem and give them a revised version of the product that does not have the same manufacturing or design defect. The longer this story lingers, the more it will etch itself in people’s minds,” – Jahan Rasty, Real World Forensic Engineering.