Samsung did everything right with the Note 7

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So it's over. The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 will no longer be sold anywhere. Customers who still have the device can return it to the dealer. We've already covered the #note7recall topic in many articles so here, I will just discuss the extent to which Samsung has acted correctly in recalling the Note 7.

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After receiving the first 35 confirmed reports of burning Note 7 batteries, Samsung launched the recall on 2 September. If the tone of the first report was quite mild and seemed to be more of a 'voluntary exchange,' it became much less so eight days later.

"Samsung calls on Note 7 owners to immediately participate in the exchange".

This is what the report on 10 September stated. Replacement units were widely available at the time – a miracle that it had happened so quickly. Shortly after customers went back to their dealers to exchange their Note 7 devices, the next stroke of bad news hit: the replacement devices were also bursting into flames.

Late on 10 October, the following official statement was published (from Samsung's website):

"We are working with relevant regulatory bodies to investigate the recently reported cases involving the Galaxy Note7. Because consumers’ safety remains our top priority, Samsung will ask all carrier and retail partners globally to stop sales and exchanges of the Galaxy Note7 while the investigation is taking place. 

We remain committed to working diligently with appropriate regulatory authorities to take all necessary steps to resolve the situation. Consumers with either an original Galaxy Note7 or replacement Galaxy Note7 device should power down and stop using the device and take advantage of the remedies available".

We have been told that the Note 7 is permanently discontinued and will not be sold anymore.

We shouldn't blame Samsung for the batteries

Consumer requirements are clear: we want lithium-Ion batteries that are able to charge faster. We also want to be able to store more power, all without the battery being any heavier. But this is turning the batteries into small bombs. If it weighed seven kilograms, it would have the same amount of energy as one kilogram of TNT. If it had a short circuit, it wouldn't explode, but ignite and burn unstoppably. This is exactly what was seen with some of the first generation batteries and also with batteries in the Note 7 replacement devices (according to The Verge, this was due to a faulty component, which was supposed to separate the anode and cathode), and the correct response from Samsung was to completely cease delivery of the devices.

How could this have happened twice?

The fact that we are allowed to take lithium-ions onto airplanes at all is due to standardized, large-scale safety tests. The problem is that these tests can only be performed on random samples. This means that out of 10 000 batteries, only a handful are tested with the assumption that the other nearly 10 000 batteries would behave similarly in the test.

Statistically, this is sufficient. But if a change occurs in the production process (the supplier changes a single component or if one of the testers incorrectly interprets a result, misinterprets it or deliberately falsifies it), tens of thousands of batteries are send out that may not withstand conditions outside the factory halls.

The fact that this occurred both in the original and replacement Note 7 devices is disappointing but is not entirely surprising. As described above, there are many potential causes of the fault. Considering the time pressure Samsung was under, it was rather remarkable how quickly they obtained replacements for the 2.5 million units sold. In the zeal of battle, someone in the production or quality assurance chain might not have known the exact problem, so the mistake of the first production run was able to continue in the second run.

And Samsung does not have a lot of options when their market demands batteries in those quantities. The production of lithium-ion batteries for the world is so tight that it was doubled by the construction of the Tesla Motors' Gigafactory alone!

Samsung was financially prepared

Reuters news agency reported that, according to credit reports by Credit Suisse, the problems with the Note 7 amount to revenue losses of nearly $17 billion. On top of that will be over $1.5 billion for waste disposal costs for the 4 million Note 7 devices that were built. We can't yet speculate about indirect effects, such as potentially low sales of the Galaxy S8.

Since Samsung has cash reserves of over $68 billion, they should be able to recover from the short-term damage. However, problems of this magnitude should not happen too frequently. Even if Samsung sees great sales in Korea with its hotels, oil tankers or life insurance, those areas also each have their own risks.

Statista numbers show that the conglomerate is expecting to reach an all-time record. So it looks like we don't have to worry about Samsung itself.

Infografic: Samsung makes more than just smartphones | Statista

You can find more statistics at Statista.

This was the right decision

Samsung did its best but unfortunately, it was not good enough. A second recall would certainly be feasible but would customers trust a future 'Note 7' product if the name is associated with soot? Samsung is known for a number of good products and fair service, even if the prices of the devices are high. They should not jeopardize that.

If the troubles of the Note 7 were to be dragged out, the shadow of the dispute would soon spill over onto their other products. This is hardly desirable from a marketing perspective. After all, in February, the Galaxy S8 will be released as the next top smartphone, which Samsung will need in order to revive sales.

Until then, the company should just let the dust settle on the Note 7 story.

What we want to know now

Samsung is now talking about looking into the cause of this situation. Even before the release of the Galaxy S8, customers will want to know exactly why the Note 7 burst into flames. It is clear that the battery technology used was dangerous. What is still unclear, however, is why other devices remained without these abnormalities.

So who is to blame for the problem? And what will be done to prevent this problem from happening in the future? Samsung must answer this question clearly, so that the public can be sure that the Note 7 remains an exceptional case.


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  • Sherzod Abdujabborov Oct 13, 2016

    I think we should separate two things here:

    What Samsung did right: they did everything right when it comes to mitigating the potential damage and harm Note 7 could do.

    What Samsung did not do right: Rushed an untested, buggy high-end and high-hopes device to the market.

    Unfortunately, that's what happens when decisions are mainly made by business and sales executives in tech companies. I am somewhat sure that their technology executives were resisting such a rush, but could not really argue the market share and competition loss arguments.

  •   46
    Deactivated Account Oct 13, 2016

    You say Samsung did everything right in your title. How is rushing a product to the market without testing, doing things right? I love Samsung Phones, I own two of them. They will most likely be the last I will buy. Samsung ignored their former customer base to go after Apple market share. They have been pushing phones out faster and faster until it finally bit them in the ass. Their choice of building materials and battery type was bound to lead to problems. Glass on the back of a phone in my opinion is stupidity. Glass is an insulator and does not conduct heat well, making any over heating problems worse. Plus it is easily cracked when dropped. The soft battery which they went with because it can be squeezed into place is another problem. No air space to help with heating problems. With their build choices it was just a matter of time before this type of thing would happen. I do not think Samsung did everything right at all.


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  •   24
    Deactivated Account Dec 29, 2016 Link to comment

    Maybe if they stop creating 1000 different models a year for entry level, mid-range and premium models and concentrate on 3 different devices a year they will have more time to test and/or inspect the device(s) before it leaves the factory. The big question I'm wondering about is will they get it right with the S8 range? Not just creating a device that ticks all the boxes, but will they get it right that the S8 don't become, like it's predecessor the note7, another terrorists best friend? ;-)

  • Francis Borg Oct 19, 2016 Link to comment

    I have had Samsung products for many years and generally satisfied with all bar the odd niggle. Only had one real problem with the S7 Edge where the screen developed a fault after 12 days. Great phone but being a Noe user since #2 I opted for the Note 7 as a replacement which of course I never got. Having used the S7Edge which is too flimsy for me I wish the Note series does not become similar. I would prefer to see a more chunky Note wit a rugged build as in Active version but better and that would a hit for most that love to use the note as the handheld PC anywhere.

    • David Kelly-Durrant Oct 24, 2016 Link to comment

      A perfect summary, it is fortunate that my Note 4 still rocks whilst I wait for the next proper Note 4 successor.

  • Muffadal Chittalwala Oct 17, 2016 Link to comment


  • br77494 Oct 16, 2016 Link to comment

    They need to go back to the removable battery - at least for the sake of a large percentage of Note 4 users that refuse to buy another Samsung Note until it has this feature. Think of the sales. I certainly would have purchased a Note 7 if it had a removable battery.

  • Poppy Ann Lynagh-Smith Oct 16, 2016 Link to comment

    One of the main problems is manufactures think everyone wants a thinner lighter phone which I think is incorrect most people could not care if it is a couple of mm thinner or a couple of grams lighter I believe most people would be happy for their device to be slightly heavier and thicker if it was safer to use there is no device on the market that is better than the Note series of smart phones .
    It is time for manufacturers to ask what users want in their phones not just keep trying to get them smaller and lighter and the same with trying to make them smoother everyone has to buy a case as soon as they get a new phone just due to them being so hard to hold and to protect them from drop's.

  • thenext Oct 14, 2016 Link to comment

    thank you

  • Andrew Burgin Oct 14, 2016 Link to comment

    Samsung now as got to concentrate on there own phones instead of worrying what Apple as to offer and stop copying everything they offer,Samsung phones were very popular because of the Removable batteries and Micro sd card slots,Note 4 and Galaxy S5 were very popular,but then instead of pleasing the Note 4 or S5 users,Samsung thought by copying Apple and not offering these Best Selling options on the Note 5 and Galaxy S6 models there Sales Struggled and not many iPhone users switched to there phones,the Galaxy S7 phones are selling well by offering the Micro sd Card slot and the Sales are a lot better,but then Samsung started Rushing out the Note 7 just because they were so worried of the new Apple iPhone 7 phones,Samsung now as got to realise having batteries concealed in there phones is not good for there phones and alot harder to solve problems with there batteries,if the Note 7 had theremovable battery option a easier solution could have been solved

  • nick crossland Oct 13, 2016 Link to comment

    I bought the note 7 and the samsung 256gb micro sd for £140 and the £52 samsung led flip wallet. I asked them if theyre gonna refund me for these and was told no thanks....cheers Samsung!

  • Sherzod Abdujabborov Oct 13, 2016 Link to comment

    I think we should separate two things here:

    What Samsung did right: they did everything right when it comes to mitigating the potential damage and harm Note 7 could do.

    What Samsung did not do right: Rushed an untested, buggy high-end and high-hopes device to the market.

    Unfortunately, that's what happens when decisions are mainly made by business and sales executives in tech companies. I am somewhat sure that their technology executives were resisting such a rush, but could not really argue the market share and competition loss arguments.

    •   31
      Deactivated Account Oct 13, 2016 Link to comment

      I'd go for Samsung's business exec's not listening to or understanding the tech exec's..

    • thenext Oct 14, 2016 Link to comment

      I agree with your idea

    • Alan Lupatini Oct 14, 2016 Link to comment

      I am 90% sure you're right about this. Sales and marketing sometimes are completely blind about some basic stuff like "first get you product to work".

  • free beer Oct 13, 2016 Link to comment

    I do not agree they did everything right. They did it in USA because the government agencies and large scale buyers such as AT&T made them do it. And what about the poor people that bought them ?. They are stuck with no phone at all or an inferior option. I am from UK but live in Asia and I can tell you that getting anything at all done with Samsung here is nigh on impossible. I bought an S7 Edge 3 months ago in USA as a gift for my wife. It lasted 6 weeks then the screen went out, after only 6 weeks !!!. I tried to contact Samsung, harder than impossible. COMPLETELY IGNORED. Took it to at least 6 official Samsung dealers here, as soon as they checked USA model they more or less to us to bugger off. Ended up spending a full day driving WAY across town to the main Samsung offices here where it was finally fixed. And my gift ?. A US$300 charge. Terrible.

    • Sherzod Abdujabborov Oct 13, 2016 Link to comment

      I share some of your concerns, but I think it would be quite unwise for poor people to buy such high-end phones, wouldn't it?

      • free beer Oct 13, 2016 Link to comment

        Where does your 'poor people' idea come from ?.

      •   46
        Deactivated Account Oct 13, 2016 Link to comment

        From you read your own post, you used it in a deferent context but it came from your words.

      • Sherzod Abdujabborov Oct 14, 2016 Link to comment

        Perhaps you used the word 'poor' - not as the indicator of wealth - but more to tell us that you feel sorry for them. I guess that exactly such miscommunications cause Note 7 type of havocs =D

  • Dwarfer66 Oct 13, 2016 Link to comment

    Still very happy with the 3 sammy phones I've had, S4, S6 edge, now the S7 edge, will be staying with them as long as possible.

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