Novatel Wireless’ MiFi 2372 has been making headlines today after reports surfaced claiming the Bell Mobility version of the portable wireless hotspot had been recalled over safety issues. We’ve just got off the phone with Rob Hadley, Novatel’s CMO, to clear up exactly what happened, and as you might expect the actual story belies the hyperbole. According to Hadley, only two incidents of user-induced damage have been recorded – the Novatel labs suggest that one MiFi 2372 owner used a knife or other sharp object to open the battery compartment, while another used “excessive force” and damaged the battery due to over-compression – and, since damaged lithium ion batteries can overheat, the company decided to redesign the battery door assembly so as to make it easier for customers to remove.
The incidents, Hadley says, are “very isolated” and there have been “zero reports of any harm” caused by the battery damage. Contrary to speculation that the MiFi units could explode, Novatel says the worst-case scenario their labs have been able to predict is part of the portable routers’ case melting if left unchecked. That given, the MiFi 2372 hasn’t been recalled; this is, they say, a replacement program for the battery door as a preventative measure.
Owners are being asked to return both the battery door and the MiFi’s battery, the latter being so that Novatel can check for any damage it may have incurred while the compartment is opened. As for the physical changes to the door section itself, they’ll make the latch easier to press so as to “reduce the incentive” to apply undue pressure or reach for a sharp object.
Bell Mobility have quoted a 6 to 8 week turnaround for the redesigned battery door, though Hadley says Novatel are expecting it to be more like 10 days. In the meantime, owners will be loaned a Novatel Wireless U998 Turbo Stick USB modem to hopefully keep them online. As of now, all new shipping Bell Mobility MiFi 2372 units have the redesigned battery door, so new buyers will get the latest model.
Bell Mobility are shutting off the MiFi 2372′s service as of today, and will be sending out return envelopes and loaner USB sticks over the next few days. The carrier has said that customers with questions regarding the process should contact customer services at 1-800-611-6600.