Samsung says its Note7 flagship smartphones, which were subject to a global recall after almost 100 battery fire or explosion incidents since August, are once again being rolled out to stores and mobile carriers and will soon be available for purchase. The new stocks of the handsets began being distributed in Korea on Oct. 1 and are being expanded to other markets around the world in the coming weeks, the company said in an Oct. 3 statement.
To promote the renewed availability of the handsets, Samsung opened Galaxy Note7 "experience zone" stores in several locations across Korea where customers can try out the phones and their features, the company announced.
As the new phone supplies arrive around the globe, Samsung said it "continues to strongly encourage all Galaxy Note7 users who have not yet participated in the exchange program to immediately do so by contacting their place of purchase or calling a designated local call center as soon as possible."
Some 1 million Note7 smartphones were recalled Sept. 15 by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission after at least 92 battery fires or explosions were reported with the new phones due to a defect in the handsets' batteries. The recall, known as Recall No. 16-266, applies to all Galaxy Note7 smartphones sold before Sept. 15, according to the agency. The move came after a series of fires were reported in the lithium-ion battery in the devices, which could "overheat and catch fire, posing a serious burn hazard to consumers," the agency said.
Under the recall, the CPSC advised owners to immediately stop using and power down the recalled Galaxy Note7 devices purchased before Sept. 15 to prevent further fires or injuries.
The original Samsung Note7 was sold through AT&T, Best Buy, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and Verizon, as well as through Samsung and other websites from August 2016 through September 2016 for between $850 and $890.
Samsung claims that more than 1 million customers around the world now have received and are using new replacement Note7 smartphones that include batteries that are approved for use. The approved batteries do not contain the flaws that allowed earlier batteries to catch fire or explode.
Yet despite its progress with the recall and the return of the phones to the global marketplace, the company has been dogged by a report of at least one Note7 owner in China who has claimed that his new Note7 phone caught fire during charging after receiving it following the recall.
Samsung acknowledged the reported incident to eWEEK previously and said it is taking action to review the report. "We are currently contacting the customer and will conduct a thorough examination of the device in question once we receive it," the company said in a statement.
China was not included in the global Note7 recalls because the batteries in the phones sold there came from a different supplier, according to Samsung.
In a Sept. 29 open letter to its customers in China, Samsung expressed "sincere apologies" for the problems with the handsets and tried to reassure customers that the devices being sold in China are safe because they don't use the same batteries as the phones that had fires elsewhere. To try to alleviate customer concerns there, the company said it has been using two third-party providers to test and investigate the batteries and devices being sold there to ensure quality and safety.
So far, that testing in China has not discovered any related battery problems that are similar to the incidents that have occurred elsewhere.
In September, Samsung advised customers that the new Note7 handsets can be distinguished from the recalled phones by the presence of a green battery charging light on their displays, in contrast to the white charging light indicator that was included in the original Note7 that had the battery problems. The new green battery icon is visible on the phone's status bar; on its always-on display screen; and on the phone's power off prompt screen, which can be accessed by long-pressing the power key.
The green lights appear after software updates are applied to the new phones. Users can also check the original display box that came with their phones to check for a solid black square on the top right of the label on the box. The solid black square indicates that the Note7 inside is one of the updated, non-defective units.
The Note7, which was unveiled in August, is a 4G LTE phone that features all-new iris scanning capabilities for security, a much-improved integrated S Pen stylus, a first-ever "Secure Folder" feature and other updates aimed at making users more productive and creative. It is slimmer and more rounded compared with the previous version, the Note 5, which debuted in August 2015. The latest device takes many of its features from the company's latest S7 and S7 Edge smartphones, which were released in March.
Highlighting the Note7 is a 5.7-inch quad HD dual-edge Super AMOLED display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 octa-core 64-bit processor, 4GB of LPDDR4 memory, 64GB of onboard storage, a microSD slot for additional storage via memory cards up to 256GB and the Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow operating system.
The Note7 also includes the high-performance "dual-pixel" cameras featured in the S7 and S7 Edge, which capture rich low-light images. The rear camera is a 12-megapixel model with F1.7 lenses, built-in flash and smart optical image stabilization, while the front-facing camera is a 5-megapixel model to capture quality selfies.
The phone also meets IP68 water- and dust-resistance standards and includes a wide range of enterprise-ready security features, such as Samsung's Knox security suite to keep data secure. The Note7's new iris scanning capabilities allow users to choose from iris or fingerprint biometric security options for device security.