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Samsung Halts Sales Of Galaxy Note 7 Smartphones

Samsung says it is suspending production of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 after reports that its batteries overheat and catch fire. The U.S. government recommends powering down and not using the device even if it is a replacement phone.

Updated 9:50 p.m. ET with FAA statement

There's more bad news for Samsung Electronics as the South Korean company was trying to solve the problem of its flagship Galaxy Note 7 smartphone catching fire. Samsung, the global leader in smartphone production, announced that it is suspending sales of the smartphone after reports that some replacement devices were also spontaneously igniting.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a statement advising "all consumers who own a Samsung Galaxy Note7 to power them down and stop charging or using the device."

NPR's Aarti Shahani reports on All Things Considered:

"Samsung is being squishy on the details. Samsung says in a statement that 'we are readjusting our supply,' without specifying if it's [the] supply of batteries or another phone part."

The New York Times reported that the company hoped to provide an update within a month.

"Samsung made the decision to halt production for consumer safety reasons and in cooperation with the authorities in the United States and China, according to the person familiar with the process."

The news comes after Samsung announced last month that it would recall 2.5 million Galaxy Note 7 smartphones amid reports that batteries were overheating and were a safety risk. The company reportedly changed battery suppliers, but that doesn't appear to have solved the problem. Last week, a Samsung Note 7 began smoking on a Southwest Airlines flight, prompting an evacuation of the plane. The phone was reported by the owner to be a replacement phone.

The four top U.S. telecom companies, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint have announced that they will no longer sell the replacement version of the Note 7. All four are offering to replace existing Note 7 phones.

Australia's top three telecoms—Telstra, Optus and Vodafone Australia—also announced that they would no longer ship the Note 7.

The Federal Aviation Administration warns travelers that even powered-down Note 7s should not be placed in checked baggage.

Among technology publications and writers, the question now is, how much damage will the battery malfunction do to Samsung's reputation?

The chief analyst at Jackdaw Research, Jan Dawson told Wired:

"This is the worst-case scenario for Samsung. Now that the replacement devices seem to be having the same problems, it calls into question Samsung's whole product testing methodology and its scrutiny of its suppliers. That's much worse than a one-off."

Others are comparing the Samsung's problems with another infamous product failure.

Here's what the chairman of Reputation Management Consultants, Eric Schifffer told Reuters:

"If the Note 7 is allowed to continue it could lead to the single greatest act of brand self-destruction in the history of modern technology. Samsung needs to take a giant write-down and cast the Note 7 to the engineering hall of shame next to the Ford Pinto."

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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