The United States Consumer Products Safety Commission is urging all consumers who own a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 to power them down and stop charging or using the device a week after the company issued a recall of the smartphone and suspended sales worldwide.
The CPSC warning issued on Friday comes amid mounting reports of lithium-ion batteries in certain Note 7 devices that have resulted in fires.
On Monday, a Florida man said his Galaxy Note 7 that was left charging inside his Jeep ignited a fire and charred the vehicle. Nathan Dornacher, of St. Petersburg, said he was not aware of the recall and urged "everyone to take this recall seriously."
Last Week, Samsung's Note 7s were pulled from shelves in 10 countries, including South Korea and the U.S., just two weeks after the product's launch. Customers who already bought Note 7s will be able to swap them for new smartphones, said Koh Dong-jin, president of Samsung's mobile business.
In the U.S., Samsung said it will let customers downgrade to a Galaxy S7 and refund the price difference.
The recall, the first for the new smartphone though not the first for a battery, comes at a crucial moment in Samsung's mobile business. Apple announced its new iPhone earlier this week and Samsung's mobile division was counting on momentum from the Note 7's strong reviews and higher-than-expected demand.
The company said it has not found a way to tell exactly which phones may endanger users out of the 2.5 million Note 7s already sold globally. It estimated that about 1 in 42,000 units may have a faulty battery.
Consumers who complained publicly said the problem came while the phone was being charged.
U.S. aviation safety officials took the extraordinary step late Thursday of warning airline passengers not to turn on or charge a new-model Samsung smartphone during flights.
The Federal Aviation Administration also warned passengers not to put the Galaxy Note 7 phones in their checked bags, citing "recent incidents and concerns raised by Samsung" about the devices. It is extremely unusual for the FAA to warn passengers about a specific product.
"The ball is in Samsung's court to make this right. Consumers want information about what's going on and peace of mind that this is not going to happen again," said Ramon Llamas, who tracks mobile devices at research firm IDC. "No one wants to wake up at 1, 2 or 3 (in the morning) and find out your smartphone's on fire."
He added that while phone combustions are unusual, "35 instances are 35 too many."
This summer, Samsung ran into a quality-control issue with another smartphone, a niche model called the Galaxy S7 Active. Consumer Reports found that the phone didn't live up to its water-resistance promises. Samsung said that relatively few phones were affected and that it had identified and fixed the manufacturing problem. Samsung said it would replace devices under warranty if it failed, but it declined to let customers swap phones otherwise or to issue a broader recall.
On the Note 7, after complaints surfaced online, Samsung found that a battery cell made by one of its two battery suppliers caused the phone to catch fire. Koh refused to name the supplier.
"There was a tiny problem in the manufacturing process, so it was very difficult to figure out," Koh told reporters at a news conference. "It will cost us so much it makes my heart ache. Nevertheless, the reason we made this decision is because what is most important is customer safety."
Customers' reports of scorched phones prompted Samsung to conduct extra quality controlling tests and delay shipments of the Note 7s this week before the recall.
South Korean high school teacher Park Soo-Jung said she had rushed to buy the new phone, pre-ordering and then activating it on Aug. 19, its official launch date.
The 34-year-old living in the port city of Busan said that she was bruised when she rushed out of bed after her phone burst into flames, filling her bedroom with smoke stinking of chemicals.
She's having second thoughts about buying another newly released device, especially after losing all her personal data stored in the destroyed Note 7, she said.
"If the exploded phone had burned near my head, I would not have been able to write this post," she said in a popular online forum Thursday, where she shared a photo of the scorched Note 7 and described dousing the flames.
China is not affected by the sales suspension. The company said it used a battery made by another supplier for the Note 7s sold in China.