Even if you aren’t all that much of a phone nut, by this point there’s a strong possibility that you’ve heard of the ill-fated Samsung Galaxy Note 7.
Samsung’s latest flagship held so much promise and indeed in our review we awarded it a full five stars for its excellent blend of hardware and software, design and flexibility. But that was before reports started coming in of owner’s new Notes catching fire, sending the reputation of the company’s new star smartphone into a tailspin that it’s been unable to pull out of.
What is the Samsung Galaxy Note 7?
If you’re not familiar with the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, check out our full review to find out everything it’s capable of. In a nutshell, the Galaxy Note 7 is the second flagship that Samsung has launched in 2016, the first of which was the Galaxy S7 (and S7 Edge) back in March. Samsung has made launching a new Note phone an annual fixture and the Note 7 looked to be the best a brightest phone on the market.
It boasts a stunning 5.7-inch WQHD (2560×1440) Super AMOLED display, it sports a stylus, it’s water-resistant, it includes an iris scanner for added security and it packs one of the best smartphone cameras out there.
When did the trouble start?
The phone went on sale back in mid-August and smashed records in Samsung’s homeland of South Korea as well as creating ‘unprecedented [pre-order] demand’ in markets including the UK.
The first report of an exploding Note 7 came from South Korea on August 24th and it wasn’t long before it was clear that it wasn’t just an isolated case.
How Samsung tried to fix things
Once the number and frequency of reported exploding Note 7s became large enough, Samsung issued a software update in select markets limiting the phone’s charge to 60 per cent, citing its battery as the cause of the issue.
Come early September an exchange programme was put in place in an attempt to recall the 2.5 million devices already sold and replace them with new Note 7s certified by Samsung as safe, however reports of exploding Notes continued to surface, further harming both the reputation of both the phone and the company.
One reported incident resulted in a Note 7 owner having to be treated in hospital for smoke inhalation, whilst another’s car caught fire as a result of his exploding smartphone and a third man in Florida sued Samsung for burns he says he sustained whilst handling a defective device.
From bad to worse
Despite word from Samsung that over a million customers internationally were using a replacement Note 7 by the end of September, it was less than a week later that one such replacement device ignited on a Southwest Airlines plane in the US, resulting in its evacuation. More reports of replacement Note 7s igniting surfaced soon after.
Click the press release above to read the original announcement on Samsung’s press site.
By the second week of October, US carriers began halting sales of Note 7 and on October 11th, the company issued a statement announcing that it was stopping all sales and exchanges of Galaxy Note 7 pending further investigation.
In the same statement, Samsung urged those still in possession of an original Note 7 or replacement Note 7 to ’power down, stop using the device and take advantage of the remedies available’. One such remedy that Note 7 owners, including the guys over at XDA Developers, received was a ‘Note 7 return kit’ which includes a thermally insulated box, complete with an anti-static pouch to accommodate the phone.
Samsung is clearly committed to figuring out just what went wrong during the phone’s manufacturing process to create such a deep rooted and dangerous hardware fault and ensure that its customers aren’t at harm, but significant damage to the brand and trust in the company has already been done.
The Note 7’s short and tumultuous time on this earth has allegedly cost the company almost $18 billion.
Aside from being one of the most notable missteps in mobile history, the Note 7 also raises questions about the Samsung’s future roadmap. Will the company launch the Galaxy Note 8 this time next year, like we all would have assumed before this crisis occurred? Perhaps it’ll launch a Note-like smartphone under a different name or does this simply mark an abrupt and fiery end to the Note line forever? We’ll know for sure come autumn 2017.
If you’re still in possession of a Galaxy Note 7, head to Samsung’s website to find out how to proceed.