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Samsung Recalls Galaxy Note 7 Over Exploding, Burning Batteries

Samsung Electronics is recalling its brand-new smartphone, the Galaxy Note 7, after dozens of users reported the devices exploded or caught fire.

Samsung traced the problem to a flaw in the phone's lithium battery, and issued a voluntary global recall.

Samsung is offering to replace all 1 million devices already in the hands of consumers in 10 countries, and it's recalling the shipments of the Galaxy Note 7 that have already gone out.

One country isn't included in the recall — China. The AP reports that, according to Samsung, the Galaxy Note 7s sold in China used a different battery that wasn't affected by the flaw.

"The recall, the first for the new smartphone, comes at a crucial moment in Samsung's mobile business," the AP reports. "Apple is scheduled to announce its new iPhone next week, and Samsung's mobile division was counting on momentum from the Note 7's strong reviews and higher-than-expected demand."

The Galaxy Note 7 has a large screen — some call it a "phablet," part phone, part tablet — and is waterproof. Samsung hopes to resume sales once the battery problems are worked out.

Koh Dong-jin, president of Samsung's mobile division, told reporters the problem that caused the faulty batteries was difficult to identify in quality control.

The recall "will cost us so much, it makes my heart ache," he said, according to the AP. "Nevertheless, the reason we made this decision is because what is most important is customer safety."

Samsung says it knows of at least 35 instances of exploding or burning batteries. No injuries have been reported, the AP says.

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Camila Flamiano Domonoske covers cars, energy and the future of mobility for NPR's Business Desk.
Elise Hu is a host-at-large based at NPR West in Culver City, Calif. Previously, she explored the future with her video series, Future You with Elise Hu, and served as the founding bureau chief and International Correspondent for NPR's Seoul office. She was based in Seoul for nearly four years, responsible for the network's coverage of both Koreas and Japan, and filed from a dozen countries across Asia.