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Hitachi blamed for faulty Samsung batteries

The Korea Herald/Asia News Network--Hitachi, one of Japan's biggest battery makers, is accused of supplying defective lithium-ion battery cells for Samsung Electronics' smartphones.

The Japanese company is one of two providers of battery cells for battery packs manufactured by Samsung's subcontractor Elentec.

The Korean supplier's batteries power some of Samsung Electronics' Galaxy handset models.

Hitachi supplies 90 percent of the battery cells Elentec uses to make batteries for Samsung's Galaxy smartphones, while Samsung SDI produces the remainder, according to Elentec's quarterly business report filed with the Financial Supervisory Service, Korea's regulatory body for financial institutions.

The Korean battery maker admitted in media interviews that there was a problem in the production process for battery cells.

“The swelling of the batteries, mostly made in 2012, was caused by water vapor (that got) inside the products during the manufacturing process,” said an official from Elentek, adding “The problem has now been solved.”

The Japanese firm was previously cited as a strong player in the global lithium-ion battery market, but its technology has recently fallen behind Korean manufacturers, according to industry watchers.

In 2013 Hitachi Maxell was the ninth-largest battery firm in the world for small- and medium-sized lithium-ion batteries, according to SNE Research, a leading Korean market research firm, in January.

Meanwhile, Samsung Electronics, which has been bombarded with a slew of complaints over swelling batteries, announced Tuesday that it would hand out free replacement batteries for users of the S3, the Note and Note 2 in Korea after being ordered to do so by the Korea Consumer Agency, a state-run watchdog for consumer goods.

Samsung, however, denied allegations that its smartphone from its Note series had battery defects.

“The replacement of batteries is aimed at dispelling users' concerns. It does not mean we have defective batteries for all the handset models,” a Samsung official said.

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