Nokia is offering to replace 46 million batteries used in its mobile phones because of a risk of overheating, the company has announced.

The faulty batteries were manufactured by Japan's Matsushita Battery Industrial Company and 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 knew of about 100 incidents so far but that no serious injuries or property damage had 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.

The Finnish phone maker has several suppliers for its BL-5C batteries, and about 300 million 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.