So, in the two months since launching to rave reviews, the Galaxy Note 7 has moved from being the hottest phone on the planet, to well, literally being the hottest phone on the planet and getting a pink slip. It would be a vast understatement to say that it’s been quite a wild ride for the latest (last?) edition of the Galaxy Note series, culminating with Samsung bowing to pressure to cancel the Galaxy Note 7 once and for all from carriers, regulatory groups, and the fear of lasting damage to its brand. After a recall and replacement program still couldn’t fix the issue of the handset burning up, the Korean electronics giant really had no other choice but to cancel the Galaxy Note 7 in its entirety. If you are in possession of a Galaxy Note 7, you are advised to return the handset to where you purchased it from so you can receive a full refund or a different handset. Join us after the break for a timeline of how the Galaxy Note 7 went from hero to zero.
Samsung launched the Galaxy Note 7 at an Unpacked event on August 2nd, and while some were upset that the handset appeared to merely be a rejigged Galaxy S7 Edge, it was a hit with consumers who preordered the Galaxy Note 7 more than any other Galaxy smartphone.
After the Galaxy Note 7 began shipping to customers in the United States, stories of exploding handsets began circulating. As is often the case, they were briefly written off as people using the incorrect charger or perhaps misusing the phone, but as the number of incidents began to add up, including the incident where a Galaxy Note 7 apparently caused a house fire in South Carolina, Samsung announced it had launched an investigation into the battery explosions after halting shipments of the device. It was serious, but hey, maybe it was just a bad batch, it would blow over in no time at all.
Shortly after announcing its investigation Samsung issued a worldwide recall for the Galaxy Note 7 and received plaudits for how it was moving quickly to correct the situation and for accepting responsibility. Samsung’s US President and COO, Tim Baxter, issued a formal apology for the whole thing, owning up to the problem and asking Galaxy Note 7 owners to turn off their devices, before handing them in for replacement.
The fault causing the explosions was placed at Samsung’s own door by way of its battery subsidiary, SDI, who manufactured faulty batteries for the Galaxy Note 7. It was believed that a small issue caused undue pressure on the positive and negative terminals of the lithium battery, causing it to spark up the flammable liquid inside and explode. Just two weeks after issuing a recall, Samsung went with China’s ATL battery manufacturer for the replacement units that would soon begin winging their way to customers who had taken part in the worldwide recall. On September 16th, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Samsung issued a formal recall for the Galaxy Note 7, with replacement handsets to be provided shortly afterward.
With replacement Galaxy Note 7 handsets beginning to reach affected customers from September 21st onwards, Samsung was praised for managing such a quick turnaround. Cranking out 2.5 million replacement handsets in such a short time was no mean feat, but the Korean company was seemingly on the right path. Samsung had also halted the advertising campaign for the Galaxy Note 7 during the recall, temporarily of course, until October 21st when the handset would become available to purchase again. Few would have guessed that things would only worsen for Samsung in the weeks ahead, while Lenovo’s Motorola brand took the opportunity to get in some shots at both Samsung and Apple with its #SkipTheSevens campaign to push the Moto Z, Moto Z Force, and Moto Z Play.
Mere days after replacement Galaxy Note 7’s began reaching affected customers, it became clear that the replacement handsets still had the same fault that plagued the original batch. On September 26th, reports emerged of replacement handsets in South Korea overheating, and losing battery power even while being charged. At the time, Samsung claimed that these were “isolated cases” due to the problems of mass-producing the 2.5million replacements in such a short time.
With reports mounting up of replacement Galaxy Note 7’s still exhibiting the same issue whereby it begins smoldering and then burns up, the incident where one such unit caught fire on a Southwest flight that had to be evacuated caught everyone’s attention. While that was the attention grabber, there were multiple other incidents where the replacement units were burning up:
- Replacement Samsung Galaxy Note 7 catches fire on an airplane –Talk Android (October 6, 2016)
- Nicholasville man injured by replacement Samsung phone – WKYT(October 8, 2016)
- Galaxy Note 7 Explosion in Daejon Hanhwa Life Eagles Park –Twosook/YouTube (October 8, 2016)
- Samsung Galaxy Note 7 explosion in South Korea Burger King – jinhee Kim/YouTube (October 8, 2016)
- Replaced Galaxy Note 7 explodes in Taiwan – Focus Taiwan (October 8, 2016)
- Farmington Teenager: Replacement for Recalled Samsung Phone Melted in Hand – KSTP (October 9, 2016)
- A fourth replacement Galaxy Note 7 caught fire in Virginia this morning – The Verge (October 9, 2016)
At some point, without being overly dramatic, the phone was going to kill someone. The plaudits for how Samsung had originally dealt with the issue and the subsequent recall and issuing of replacement devices, quickly turned sour. Instead, people were concerned with how Samsung could allow such a dangerous device to slip through its safety tests, not once, but twice. Carriers began their own pre-emptive strike against the Galaxy Note 7, halting sales of the handset and asking customers to return their units in return for a different model or a refund.
Our very own Justin Herrick called it on October 9th, saying that Samsung should pull the plug on the Galaxy Note 7 itself. Samsung issued a formal statement yesterday requesting that all users should “power down and stop using” the Galaxy Note 7, and today, on October 11th, the handset maker has finally pulled the plug on the handset, permanently discontinuing production of the faulty device. Samsung said the following:
“Taking our customer’s safety as our highest priority, we have decided to halt sales and production of the Galaxy Note 7,”
The move to cancel the Galaxy Note 7 has already wiped out around $17 billion from Samsung’s market capitalization, with shares dropping 8% and losses predicted to be around the $3 billion mark for the fourth quarter. Today’s announcement has also prompted rumors that the Galaxy Note series could be abandoned entirely.
So that’s it, if you own a Galaxy Note 7, follow Samsung’s advice: take it back to where you purchased it from for a refund or a different handset. There’s nothing to be gained by keeping it in the hopes that it might not burn up or explode.
What do you think of the whole mess that that was the Galaxy Note 7? How could something so good end so badly, and is this the end of the Galaxy Note series? Will the debacle stop you from considering the Galaxy S8 that is expected at the end of February? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.