Samsung Electronics said on Friday that it would replace about 2.5 million new high-end smartphones it had sent to stores and consumers after reports that some had caught fire, in a blow to its effort to match the success of the Apple iPhone.
The recall covers an unprecedented number of smartphones for the industry, which is broadly grappling with slowing demand and intense competition.
Samsung, of South Korea, said on Friday that the recall involved its Galaxy Note 7, an oversize smartphone with the same curved edges that have given other Samsung phones a considerable sales lift. It released the Note 7 last month.
“We acknowledge the inconvenience this may cause in the market but this is to ensure that Samsung continues to deliver the highest quality products to our customers,” Samsung said in a statement. “We are working closely with our partners to ensure the replacement experience is as convenient and efficient as possible.”
The company said that thus far 35 battery episodes have been registered. It will take about two weeks for replacement phones to be made, it said.
The recall, which is being undertaken in 10 countries where the phones have been selling, marks a major blow to Samsung, which has recently seen its fortunes improve after years of tough competition from Apple on the high -end and new Chinese brands on the lower end.
From a marketing perspective, it comes at an inopportune time. Its biggest competitor for top-end phones, Apple, is set to show off its newest version of the iPhone next week. Samsung’s sales and financial results have benefited from the release of the latest Galaxy phones, which have smooth, tapered edges that make it more comfortable to hold.
The Note 7 measures 5.7 inches diagonally, making it a large phone sometimes referred to as a phablet — a combination of phone and tablet. It sells in the United States for about $900 to $1,000 without subsidies from a wireless carrier.