Samsung Electronics Co. has temporarily suspended production of the Galaxy Note 7 smartphone, an official at a supplier for Samsung said Monday, amid a series of media reports that some Note 7 replacements have caught fire.
The halt is in cooperation with consumer safety regulators from South Korea, the United States and China, the official said on the condition of anonymity.
“This measure includes a Samsung plant in Vietnam that is responsible for global shipments (of the Galaxy Note 7),” the official said.
Samsung started selling the Note 7 in South Korea on Aug. 19 but announced a global recall of 2.5 million units earlier last month following reports of some of the devices catching fire while being charged.
Samsung has encouraged owners of the Note 7 to swap their devices with new ones, but media reports said some new Note 7s in the U.S. and Taiwan have also caught fire. The fault appears to lie in the device’s lithium-ion battery, which may be prone to overheating, causing fires and explosions. It is unclear how widespread the issue is.
AT&T and T-Mobile, two of the big four US mobile networks, said they would stop giving new Note 7 smartphones to consumers to replace older models while investigations of the replacement devices are underway.
Samsung said it had temporarily halted production. “We are temporarily adjusting the Galaxy Note7 production schedule in order to take further steps to ensure quality and safety matters,” the company said.
The Note 7 recall is Samsung’s first smartphone recall and its biggest crisis in years.
The premium phone was hailed by critics as one of the best Android phones when it made its debut in August. Two months later, some consumers called the expensive device the “Death Note” after reports that dozens of the smartphones overheated or caught fire, in some cases damaging property or causing injuries.
Samsung seemed to have the trouble under control when it swiftly announced a global recall two weeks after the phone’s launch. It promised to replace the earlier phones with new Note 7s showing a green battery icon to indicate they are safe to use.
But consumers have reported even the new Note 7 phones with the green battery icon were catching fire.
Last week, authorities had to evacuate a Southwest Airlines flight in Kentucky when a replacement phone began emitting smoke.
Some US mobile carriers have opted to stop selling the new Note 7 phones. AT&T, one of the largest phone retailers in the US, stopped giving consumers replacement Note 7s and encouraged customers with Note 7 phones to exchange them for other devices. T-Mobile said on its website on Sunday that it is temporarily suspending all sales of the new Note7 and exchanges for replacement Note7 devices while Samsung investigates multiple reports.
In response to those reports of replacement phones catching fire, Samsung said on its website on Friday that it “understands the concern of our carriers and consumers.”
“We continue to move quickly to investigate the reported case to determine the cause and will share findings as soon as possible,” it said. “If we conclude a safety issue exists, we will work with the CPSC to take immediate steps to address the situation.”