The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 was Apple’s biggest competitor, releasing around the same time as the hotly desired iPhone 7. Now, a couple weeks after its launch, consumers are returning their phones feeling burned by the company, some more literally than others. Samsung announced last week that they would be recalling over one million Galaxy Note 7s due to issues with the devices battery. Several consumers reported that the batteries were prone to severe overheating and even exploding while being charged, in use, or recently in use. At the time of the recall, Samsung had sold over 2.5 million devices. They voluntarily recalled nearly half of those over 10 markets. The recall is projected to cost the company $5 billion, and the day of the recall, Samsung’s stock took a steep decline (though they have since stabilized back to where they were before the recall announcement). Consumers who purchased a Galaxy Note 7 before September 15th, and who have not yet done so, should go to Samsung’s official IEM website to check and see if their device needs to be recalled. If so, Samsung and the CPSC advise users to shut the device down and take it to their point of purchase.
While the official recall did not occur until the week of the 12th (announced by Samsung on the 10th), Samsung started their official “Replacement Program” in the beginning of September, anticipating issues with the battery cell. Since then they have received dozens of reports of batteries combusting and injuries caused by the batteries. One consumer whose phone exploded in his pocket leading to severe burns is suing Samsung for damages. Florida man Jonathan Strobel reported that his battery catching fire led to him suffering second-degree burns on his thigh and thumb. His lawyer reports the injury happened on the 9th, before Samsung declared a recall. Samsung told Reuters they do not comment on ongoing litigation and reminded owners to take their devices in for replacement.
While replacements have not yet been delivered, Samsung is already telling consumers what to expect from their replacement phones. On Monday Samsung shared images of the new phone in their Newsroom, pointing out that phones which have been replaced will have a green battery icon, indicating their safe status. Ars Technica originally pointed out that the new design may violate Google’s Compatibility Definition for Android devices. According to the Android Compatibility Definition Document, battery icons for all Android devices should be white.
However, given the extenuating circumstance and long-time partnership between Samsung and Google, Android VP Hiroshi Lockheimer said Samsung will be given a pass. The VP pointed out that they had worked with Samsung on the update, and that the white border around the battery was sufficient to meet compatibility.
— Hiroshi Lockheimer (@lockheimer) September 20, 2016
While Samsung seems to be handling the recall well, it may have soured their reputation with consumers too much. An online poll of 507 (self-reported) Android users reported 35% would seek a refund and 26% would instead buy an iPhone 7. Bloomberg reported that over-innovation may be Samsungs downfall, with the battery issues likely caused by the Note 7s latest update overloading the phone with too many features as well as the rush to released before the iPhone 7. Official figures for both devices have yet to be released, but taking into account the billions that will be spent on the recall alone, it might be safe to predict that the iPhone won this particular battle.