Samsung discontinues Galaxy Note7 after battery debacle

Problems worsened for Samsung after reports that even replacement Note7 phones were catching fire

Samsung Electronics has discontinued production of its Galaxy Note7 smartphone, which has been plagued since its introduction in August by battery problems that caused fires and even explosions.

The company confirmed Tuesday that it is discontinuing production, a day after it said that it had advised carriers and retail partners worldwide not to sell or exchange the replacement Note7 phones that were intended to solve an issue of overheating batteries in the previous version.

U.S. carriers including Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile announced over the weekend that they would stop the exchange of the smartphone after reports of fires and explosions involving the replacement smartphones, including a report of a Note7 that caught fire on a Southwest Airlines flight. Samsung said last week it was investigating the reports.

Samsung offered to give customers the replacement phones as part of a recall of about 1 million Note7 smartphones it announced with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Other countries including Canada also announced similar recalls.

It became evident that matters were getting more difficult for Samsung when it was widely reported over the weekend that the company was considering temporarily halting production of the replacement Note7 smartphones.

On Monday, the company said it was "temporarily adjusting the Galaxy Note7 production schedule in order to take further steps to ensure quality and safety matters."

Samsung did not disclose which product line would be introduced to take the place of Note7. It appears that for customers the option now will be to take up Samsung's offer of a refund or a replacement of the Note7 with the Galaxy S7 or Galaxy S7 edge, which was part of the offer after the CPSC recall.

"Samsung is doing what's needed here by containing the damage to the Note 7 before consumer fear spreads to other Samsung products.

Killing such an otherwise-promising product line is painful but perhaps necessary for the long term health of the company," said Bryan Ma, vice president for devices research at IDC.

Samsung still has its flagships, the S7 and S7 Edge, that users can turn to, said Ma, who added that if users are willing to switch from Android to iOS it could well benefit Apple.

"Users that want to stick to Android have plenty of other Android flagships to choose from, be it from LG, HTC, Sony, Huawei or even Google's recently launched Pixels," Ma said.

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John Ribeiro

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