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Samsung Galaxy Note 7 bursting battery shipment stop may escalate to a recall

The hold on Samsung Galaxy Note 7 shipments because of quality issues that began on Wednesday may escalate to a wider consumer recall for the device, according to reports out of South Korea.

According to the Korea Herald, stories of bursting batteries have escalated in recent days. As a result, Samsung is said to be considering a wide-scale battery replacement program for the phone.

While Samsung produces the phone's individual lithium-ion battery cells, the complete battery assembly is manufactured by others. The flaw appears to be related to manufacturer ITM Semiconductor, the producer of nearly all of the Galaxy Note 7 batteries for the South Korean market.

The U.S. and international models of the Galaxy Note 7 have slightly different hardware configurations. However, AppleInsider has learned that some of the models shipped to the U.S. have the potentially problematic ITM Semiconductor battery installed — the same model as found in all of the bursting phones in Korea.

If a lithium-ion battery is compromised by overcharge, overheating, damage, or simply age, the inner cells can "outgas" the contained flammable electrolyte mixture. An undamaged battery membrane will stretch and bulge to contain this material to some extent, but at some point the membrane will rupture explosively — which appears to have caused the explosions as depicted in South Korean social media venues.

Wednesday's shipment delay came in response to a flurry of posts on Korean social media showing destroyed phones. A Samsung statement about the stop was terse, saying only that "shipments of the Galaxy Note 7 are being delayed due to additional tests being conducted for product quality."

It is still not known what markets the shipment hold applies to. AppleInsider has also learned that some AT&T corporate-owned stores in the U.S. are holding existing stock for clarification of the issue.