3 Lessons We Learned from the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Recall
Samsung had a really good year this year. It started with the new Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge that introduced further refinements to the already well-received Galaxy S6, S6 Edge and S6 Edge+. Sales figures were off the charts and Samsung seems to be on a winning streak for the last 2 consecutive years.
The introduction of the Galaxy Note7 was also well-received. It was supposed to be an affirmation that Samsung remains to be the “King of Android” that can easily slug it out with the iPhone and Apple’s massive cult-like following.
Then the unimagined happened. Barely weeks after the release of the Galaxy Note7, reports of devices exploding (more like bursting into flames) were already circulating in the media.
A couple of reports might just be isolated cases. Every now and then, we’ve seen reports of iPhones also bursting to flames too. But this one was different. More reports came in and in less than a month, over 70 reported cases of Note7 exploding is hard to deny.
Airlines started banning the use of Note7 handsets in flights and more advisories were released. Eventually, Samsung admitted that there was some manufacturing defect in some of the batteries that were shipped with the Note7.
A battery defect is normal as it’s the most volatile part of a device. In another scenario, this could just have been a battery replacement program. The last time I remember something similar to this would be the “Bumper Case Program” for the iPhone 4.
That would have been a minor hold-up but since the battery on the Note7 is non-removable, the entire phone had to be replaced.
The “antenna-gate” and the “bend-gate” that hounded Apple a couple years back pales in comparison to what Samsung had to endure with the Galaxy Note7, much less the financial setback this type of recall is costing them. Reports estimate the recall would amount to about $1 billion for the 2.5 million devices shipped since the initial release.
It’s a hassle for many to have to return their units and wait for further instructions on when to get their replacement. Good thing Samsung also offered an option to either swap for a Galaxy S7 Edge plus change or completely get a refund. Samsung handled this one fairly well.
If you got your Note7 from a carrier, the experience could range from easy as walking into a business center and leaving with a new one or as complicated as getting the run around, depending on who you’re talking to.
Worse if you got your unit from grey market sellers. Since they don’t normally offer full warranty for situations like this, you might be getting the shorter end of the stick or nothing at all.
There’s a little bit of lesson for all of us here:
1) The potential problem of non-removable batteries. Batteries are the most volatile part of the phone. By making them non-removable, it poses a bigger risk to users as reflected in recent incidents. Should we move back to removable batteries, then?
2) The handling of the crisis by the brand. Despite the very low incidence of exploding Note7, Samsung decided to do a recall of all 2.5 million devices. Safety before profit.
3) the potential risks of getting a more affordable device from grey market sellers. This is a classic case that separates “service warranty” vs. “manufacturer’s warranty”. You pay less for “service warranty” but you don’t get the same peace of mind if ever the device is defective.
Despite the setback, I think Samsung will eventually get thru this and the Note7 will continue to be a best-seller.