SAMSUNG has scrapped its flagship Galaxy Note7 smartphone, a day after halting sales because of concerns over consumer safety.
The Korean technology giant had delayed the launch of the Note7 in the UK in September as it investigated and replaced faulty units that were overheating and exploding due to a battery defect.
However, new reports in the US raised further concerns that replacement devices were still catching fire and despite halting production to investigate the issue, the manufacturer has now chosen to completely withdraw the device.
In a statement, the firm said: “We can confirm the report that Samsung permanently discontinues the production of Galaxy Note7.”
Samsung had halted a replacement program in the UK after it was suggested further defects could exist within the Note beyond the battery issue. Samsung said it had sold around 45,000 Note7s during pre-orders in Europe.
The tech giant had earlier advised retailers to stop selling and exchanging the device while it investigated the cause of the fires, of which at least five had been reported in replacement devices in the US which the company had approved as safe.
This followed an initial recall of the device after more than 30 handsets from the original production batch were reported to have caught fire or exploded in the hands of consumers.
There have been no confirmed reports in the UK, where the handset was never fully released, but analysts are already suggesting the recall and now scrapping of the Note7 could cost Samsung in the long run, particularly coming just as rivals including Google and Apple have announced new high-end smartphones.
Richard Windsor, from Edison Investment Research, said: “As a result of making a complete mess of the Galaxy Note7 recall, Samsung is more likely to lose a large number of high end users to other Android handsets rather than to Apple.
“The real issue is brand and reputation. As long as Samsung carried out the recall smoothly and kept users very happy, the issue would eventually blow over.
“Unfortunately, this is very far from the case, and the fact that Samsung appeared to still be shipping defective devices could trigger a large loss of faith in Samsung products.”
Two firms supply batteries for the mobile phones giant, but Samsung has not said which provider’s cells were at fault or clarified whose batteries are used in which Note7 smartphones.
Professor Harry Hoster, director of energy at Lancaster University, said: “When designing batteries, there is a trade-off between how long a battery will last between charges and how safe it is to actually operate. Samsung has possibly pushed too far in the direction of ‘performance’.
“It is genuinely difficult to estimate how much the risk of total battery failure may increase by in the pursuit of such performance, since these are rare events that only become countable once the batteries are in mass production - that is, when it is too late.”
However, reports into the second wave of safety issues raised the possibility that another dangerous fault lay away from the battery.
Korean safety authorities said they had found a possible new product defect in the Note7 that may not be related to its batteries and urged consumers to stop using them.
One safety official said they were yet to determine when they would be able to identify what caused the new devices to catch fire.
Oh Yu-cheon, a senior official at the Korean Agency for Technology and Standards which oversees product recalls, said experts were still investigating the cause of the new defect.
“The improved product does not have the same defect. That’s why we think there is a new defect,” Mr Oh said.