No one could have known back in August that the release of Samsung’s best ever smartphone would end up being the worst thing that has ever happened to the company’s smartphone business.
When I took delivery of my Note 7 review unit back in August, I knew instantly that I was holding a game-changing smartphone. And when I published by Galaxy Note 7 review later that month, I couldn’t recommend the phone strongly enough. The Note 7 marked the true start of a new era at Samsung as the company completed its transition away from iPhone copycats made of cheap feeling plastic. This new phone was unequivocal proof that Samsung flagships were and would continue to be best-in-class devices. Within the confines of current technological limitations, the Note 7 was as close to perfect as a phablet could get.
Now, a month and a half later, I have no choice but to completely reverse my stance. Under no circumstances whatsoever should you purchase a Samsung Galaxy Note 7.
For Samsung and for its customers, the Galaxy Note 7 has been an absolute nightmare. In terms of design, features and performance, it was instantly obvious that the Note 7 was Samsung’s most impressive phone ever, and it flew off the shelves following its release. The phone’s success in those early days would end up being bittersweet, because each phone sold would end up being another handset that needed to be recalled.
Yes, as we all now know, an unknown number of Note 7 handsets were equipped with faulty batteries that could explode and catch fire. The true magnitude of this safety threat was realized when exploding Galaxy Note 7 phones caused personal injuries and car fires. One exploding Note 7 even ended up burning down its owner’s house.
But the worst was yet to come.
Samsung had no choice but to issue a global recall of all 2.5 million Galaxy Note 7 handsets that had been shipped to retailers. The exact number of recall-eligible phones sold to end users around the world is not known, but Samsung said about 1 million handsets were sold in the US and South Korea alone. The company did a reasonably good job educating users and within a few weeks of the official start of its recall program, Samsung had exchanged or refunded more than half of all Note 7 purchases.
Then, the unthinkable happened: a “safe” Galaxy Note 7 that had been issued to a customer as a replacement phone exploded and caught fire. On an airplane.
The plane was evacuated and no passengers were harmed by the incident, but this is, as they say, the straw that broke the camel’s back. Samsung has yet to confirm or deny anything since it must first retrieve the phone and launch an investigation, but The Verge was in contact with the phone’s owner, who provided extensive evidence to prove that the phone was in fact a newer replacement model. He gave the blog a photo of the Note 7’s box, which indicated that it was indeed a replacement phone. He also supplied his IMEI number, which was checked using Samsung’s online tool and found to be a “safe” device.
We won’t know anything for sure until Samsung retrieves the phone, conducts an investigation and releases its findings. But for the time being, things are not looking good at all — and consumers cannot and should not be confident that Samsung’s replacement Note 7 handsets are safe. So, until Samsung and the CPSC complete their investigations, do not purchase a Galaxy Note 7.