Samsung Electronics, the world's largest smartphone maker by shipment volume, said it has halted the sale of the Galaxy Note 7, its latest smart device, after finding faults in battery cells. The announcement comes shortly before rival Apple's (AAPL - Get Report) anticipated launch of its newest iPhone 7.

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The Galaxy Note 7 was launched in South Korea and the U.S. on Aug. 19 and was due to go on sale today in Europe. The firm delayed shipments following national news agency Yonhap's report earlier this week of five cases of batteries exploding or catching fire.

Today, the Suwon, South Korean-based company confirmed 35 cases of battery cell issues globally. While the company is inspecting its suppliers to identify any more affected batteries, it said it decided to halt sales.

"Because our customers' safety is an absolute priority at Samsung, we have stopped sales of the Galaxy Note 7," the company said in a statement. "For customers who already have Galaxy Note 7 devices, we will voluntarily replace their current device with a new one over the coming weeks."

The sales halt will come as a blow to the electronics firm, which is in fierce competition with not only rival Apple, but also with up and coming makers that are offering smart devices for cheaper prices. Apple is expected to release its newest smartphone iPhone 7 early September.

The Galaxy Note 7 is a 5.7-inch screen device, which compares with the 5.1-inch screen for the Galaxy S7 smartphone, is navigated with a designated pen, is water resistant and has increased security features including iris scanning.

Samsung shares have dropped 3% since the South Korean publications first reported the glitch in the new device.