Nokia mobile phone owners have been warned that their handsets' batteries may be at risk of overheating, with the Finnish company offering to replace 46m batteries manufactured by Matsushita.

The faulty batteries were sold in a wide range of Nokia phones, from its low-end 1100 family of products up to its pricier N91 and E60 devices.

Nokia said that in "very rare cases" a short circuit can cause the Nokia-branded BL-5C batteries to overheat while they are being recharged. It said it knows of about 100 incidents so far but that no serious injuries or property damage have been reported.

People concerned about the problem can get their battery replaced for free, Nokia said. It set up a web page that lists the phone models and describes how customers can check if their battery is affected.

Nokia has several suppliers for its BL-5C batteries, and about 300m BL-5Cs have been produced altogether, the company said. The problem exists only with the 46 million Matsushita batteries manufactured between December 2005 and November 2006, Nokia said.

The company said it will work with Matsushita and the relevant authorities to investigate the problem. A picture of the BL-5C is here.