When Samsung introduced their top-of-the-line Galaxy Note7 phone in August, it received rave reviews, and was described by many reviewers as the best phone ever. The Note7 is a continuation of their top-of-the-line smartphones that are equipped with a stylus that lets you write notes, sketch and annotate. The Note7 costs $850 and replaces the older Note5; there never was a Note6.
But shortly after it began shipping, reports surfaced that some units burst into flames, some while plugged in and charging and others while in a pants pocket or on a table. Samsung wasn’t very forthcoming, and started a voluntary recall rather than reporting it to the U.S. government’s Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The law requires them to inform the CPSC immediately when a product is found to have a safety issue of any significance. It took Samsung almost two weeks to notify them.
Samsung blamed the problem on defective batteries made by another division of their company. Two weeks later they announced that the problem was fixed, and a half-million replacement phones were being shipped to the U.S. to be exchanged for the defective ones.
But, in the past week, four of the replacement phones have also caught fire, one carried by a passenger on a Southwest Airlines flight. The phone, which was in airplane mode, caught fire and the plane had to be taken out of service because of the damage the phone caused to the floor of the plane.
In spite of all of this, Samsung has continued to be uncommunicative and has not explained what’s behind these fires and has not instituted an advertising campaign to fully inform the public of the danger.
What’s also puzzling is how Samsung was able to diagnose the original cause, remanufacture a half-million replacement phones, fully test the new phones, and do it all in just two weeks. Obviously, now we know they didn’t do an adequate job, because these new phones are failing.
Customers wanting to return their phones have also faced obstacles dealing directly with the company. Calls have not been returned and customers have been given conflicting instructions. Samsung attributes this to using a third party to process the returns.
This past weekend, the carriers have stepped in and are telling their customers to return any Note7 to their store and they will replace the phones with another model or brand. T-Mobile is also paying $25 for the inconvenience.
On Monday, Samsung finally announced they are stopping all shipments of the Galaxy Note7 until they can solve this problem.
Next page: What to do if you have a Note7
If you have a Note7, stop using it immediately. Do not leave it unattended. Take it to your carrier and turn it back in along with any accessories you may have purchased. Get a replacement phone from your carrier and be sure they don’t charge you a restocking fee.
If you bought your Galaxy Note7 from Samsung or have questions, you should contact the company at 1-844-365-6197 and they can help you.
What are your best replacement phones? The Samsung Galaxy 7 is a similar phone without the stylus function and has shown no signs of this problem. The older Galaxy Note 5 is also very good. Or if you’re reluctant to stick with Samsung, the new Google Pixel phones are a good choice. Alternatively consider the Apple iPhone 7 or 7 Plus that are based on an older design. The benefit of the older design is that it’s based on shipments of tens of millions of phones that have had a good safety record.
Whatever happens, Samsung has seriously tarnished their reputation for building a safe, reliable product. Not so much for shipping the original defective units, but for failing to own up to the problem and being completely open.