In an unprecedented move, Samsung on Friday morning announced that it will recall every Galaxy Note 7 it has produced to date. The news comes just one day after Samsung halted production following a handful reports of faulty units. Why halt production and issue a recall because of just a handful of faulty units? The devil is in the details — Samsung’s faulty Galaxy Note 7 handsets don’t just fail, they explode.
The obvious safety risks forced Samsung’s hand, leaving the company no choice but to recall all of its flagship phablets despite the relatively low rate of affected handsets. The move is completely unprecedented. This isn’t the first time a high-profile smartphone should have been recalled — Apple found a way to keep selling the iPhone 4 despite an obvious antenna flaw that impacted performance and would ultimately be fixed in newer units — but it’s the first time we’ve ever seen a recall on a high-profile flagship smartphone.
UPDATE: Samsung has announced the procedure for exchanging your Galaxy Note 7 for a new one, as well as a few bonus options to make amends. Full details are available right here.
Just over a week ago, BGR was among the first sites to cover news of a Galaxy Note 7 that had allegedly exploded while it was charging. The user posted photos of the aftermath on popular Chinese forum Baidu, and he claimed the phone had spontaneously burst into flames while charging. We’re not talking about some smoke and a few sparks here — the phone’s owner said he heard a “sudden bang” and found the phone engulfed in flames.
Following a second widely covered incident, Samsung decided to halt Note 7 production and shipments while it investigated the incident. As we now know, that investigation uncovered a rare but serious problem with the phone’s battery that could cause it to combust.
And so on Friday, Samsung announced a voluntary global recall of its new flagship Galaxy Note 7 smartphone. You can read Samsung’s full statement on the matter in this post.
Here’s what you need to know:
According to Samsung, there have been 35 separate reports worldwide of incidents relating to the Galaxy Note 7’s battery problem. That figure represents the number of known failures at this point, but it’s not clear how many phones are affected by the battery problem (hence the recall). Where things get a bit foggy is when it comes to how many Galaxy Note 7 units have been built at this point.
Samsung is being quoted with different shipment figures by different news agencies. Yonhap News quotes Samsung’s mobile business head Koh Dong-jin as having said that 1 million Note 7 handsets have been built at this point. “As of Sept. 1, a total of 35 claims were registered with Samsung’s service centers at home and abroad. Only 24 units on a scale of 1 million were affected by the battery problem,” Koh reportedly said in a statement to the press in South Korea.
Meanwhile, The Korea Herald quotes the same executive with a very different figure. “We decided to stop selling Galaxy Note 7 and to replace all the products rolled out in 10 nations, including South Korea,” Koh said during a briefing, according to the report. “We have produced around 2.5 million units so far and plan to recall all of them.”
Did Samsung build 2.5 million units and sell 1 million of them to end users so far? It’s unclear for the time being, but there’s a much more important question that hasn’t yet been addressed. Here’s an excerpt from Samsung’s statement:
For customers who already have Galaxy Note7 devices, we will voluntarily replace their current device with a new one over the coming weeks.
Now, it’s great that Samsung is issuing a recall — not that it had any other choice. But this is a serious problem. There are apparently at least 1 million Galaxy Note 7 handsets out there, and any number of them could be ticking time bombs. What are people supposed to do in the meantime? Is it safe to keep using these phones? After all, there’s no telling how many phones out there might be impacted by this serious issue. And has Samsung already begun to contact Galaxy Note 7 owners directly to inform them of this potential hazard?
Samsung said in its statement that it is “working closely with our partners to ensure the replacement experience is as convenient and efficient as possible,” but it seems like Note 7 owners could be at risk if they continue to use their smartphones in the coming weeks. And it really is a shame — the Galaxy Note 7 the best Android phone the world has ever seen.
If you have a Galaxy Note 7, be as careful as possible in the weeks ahead until Samsung launches its exchange program. Only use OEM chargers with the phone, and never charge it overnight while you sleep. If at all possible, use another phone instead of the Note 7 unless you don’t have access to any other handsets.