(Editor's note: On Friday morning Samsung said it will recall millions of Note7 phones due to battery issues. This post has been update to include a comment from Samsung. Changes are marked in bold and strike-through text.)
Yesterday I published a rather exhaustive review of Samsung's new Galaxy Note7 smartphone, in which I mostly gushed over the device. I called it a "fabulous phone with few flaws." But it looks like I may have been wrong on at least one account. Some Note7 units may have a serious fault: Exploding batteries.
News broke early Wednesday morning that Samsung had ceased shipments of the Note7 in its home country of South Korea after at least five Note7 users claimed their phones exploded or caught fire while charging. (The below YouTube clip shows a South Korean newscast with images of a purported exploding Note7.) It's still unclear whether it also stopped shipping the phone in the United States or elsewhere. However, more recent reports suggest that the company not only stopped shipping Note7s, it may also offer a recall or battery replacement option to all South Korean customer.
(I reached out to Samsung for additional details and will update this post if I receive them.)
From a Samsung spokesperson:
"In response to questions on Galaxy Note7, we are conducting a thorough inspection. We will share the findings as soon as possible. Samsung is fully committed to providing the highest quality products to our consumers."
The Note7 is still listed for sale on the websites of all of the Big Four U.S. carriers, and each of them except for Sprint says new Note7 orders should ship within a week. That suggests the problem may be specific to early Note7 shipments in South Korea. Samsung also reportedly used more than one battery supplier for the Note7, so the fiery battery issue may affect only an early shipment or shipments of devices, which Samsung could be able to identify.
Any way you look at it, the development isn't good news for Samsung. Investors reportedly withdrew more than $4 billion from its market capitalization today, and its shares decreased by at least two percent in just a day's time, according WSJ.com.
I still stand by my assertion that the Galaxy Note7 is THE business phone to beat today. However, the possibility that it just might spontaneously combust is sure to be a turnoff for many potential buyers, at least for the time being.