BETHESDA, Md. (WTVD) -- U.S. regulators issued an official recall of Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 phone on Thursday because of a risk of fire.
Samsung already has voluntary recalled the devices after a few dozen devices exploded or caught fire. That was out of about 2.5 million phones sold.
CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT HOW TO EXCHANGE YOUR GALAXY NOTE 7
The affected devices were sold in the U.S. before September 15, 2016.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is stepping in on a formal recall. Its chairman, Elliot Kaye, blasted Samsung for trying to do the recall on its own, saying that anyone who believes that to be adequate "needs to have more than their phone checked."
Samsung promised replacement devices, but that was put on hold while regulators reviewed the situation. Kaye said customers will now be offered full refunds, not just replacement devices, if they choose. Note 7 owners need to contact Samsung and provide a number from the back of the phone to determine whether that unit is at risk.
Kaye said about 1 million devices are affected.
The recall comes at a crucial time for Samsung, as its rival Apple just announced its own latest versions of the iPhones, which go on sale Friday. The Note series is one of Samsung's most expensive, and demand for the phone had been high.
U.S. aviation safety officials also have taken the unusual step of warning airline passengers not to turn on or charge the phone during flights, or put them in checked bags.
Some Samsung fans told ABC11 they don't want to say goodbye to the phone they were so excited to buy. Jason Urgo lives in Wake County, and is a fan of the Galaxy Note phones. He's owned the 2, 3, 4, 5, and now the Note 7.
"I was at another store the other day looking through what other phones are Verizon, or are compatible with Verizon network, and I didn't really care for any of them," Urgo said.
Daniel Bunce, a Raleigh resident, also enjoyed his Note 7 - until he learned about the phones that caught fire.
"I never had any issues, it seems like, with the charging," Bunce explained. "I never felt unsafe but I'm not gonna take any chances at this point."
Bunce didn't like the replacement phones Samsung offered, so he returned his Note 7 for a Samsung Galaxy Edge. Urgo said he's holding out to see if the company will re-release the Note 7 with a fix.
"I definitely am frustrated about how all of this is being handled," Urgo shared. "If Samsung had a clear message on when things would be available, that would be a lot easier to handle."
Below is information Samsung provided customers on its website:
Samsung has announced a voluntary recall and exchange program on certain Galaxy Note7 devices in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The affected devices were sold in the U.S. before September 15, 2016. Since the affected devices can overheat and pose a safety risk, if you own a Galaxy Note7, it is extremely important to stop using your device, power it down and immediately exchange it using our U.S. Note7 Exchange Program.
Through the U.S. Note7 Exchange Program, you can:
1. Exchange your current Galaxy Note7 device with a new Galaxy Note7 as approved by the CPSC; or
2. Exchange your current Galaxy Note7 for a Galaxy S7 or Galaxy S7 edge and replacement of any Note7 specific accessories with a refund of the price difference between devices; or
3. Contact your point of purchase to obtain a refund.
Customers who exchange a Note7 device will also receive a $25 gift card, in-store credit, in-store accessory credit or bill credit from select carrier retail outlets.
Note: The battery cell issue applies only to the Galaxy Note7 sold in the U.S. before September 15, 2016.
Click here to see if your phone is eligible for exchange
Galaxy Note7 owners can contact the carrier or retail outlet where they purchased their device. If you bought your Note7 from Samsung.com, you should contact us at 1-844-365-6197 and we can help you. If you have any questions or concerns, contact us directly at 1-844-365-6197.
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US regulators: Official recall of 1M Samsung Note 7 phones