Just step away from that Samsung Galaxy Note7 smartphone, please.
Samsung and public safety authorities are warning against charging or even turning on Note7 phones, which have batteries that can explode or burst into flames.
But just in case you found out all of this while you were traveling, you’ll also be warned about taking your Note7 with you while you fly.
On Sept. 9 the Federal Aviation Administration and the European Aviation Safety Agency issued warnings and advisories regarding the Note7. Briefly, the new rules require airlines to warn passengers not to turn on or charge their Galaxy Note7 devices, and not to pack them in checked luggage.
In addition, EASA requires passengers to report immediately to the cabin crew any signs of problems such as the device getting warm, smoke coming from the device, flames or explosions.
Apparently, if you have a Galaxy Note7 and you’re traveling, you should find a way to get rid of it before you fly home. One way to accomplish this might be to visit your carrier and trade it in on a non-explosive device before you get on your next flight—and it may not have to be another Samsung device.
T-Mobile, for example, is offering to take a Note7 in trade for another device, including devices from other makers, such as Apple. This is one time when Apple’s app that’s designed to transfer data from an Android device could be really useful.
One thing you cannot do is pack up your Note7 and overnight it home. FedEx has specific rules against accepting potentially flammable packages, as does the rest of the express shipping industry. So you’re basically stuck. If you can’t find a way to ditch the Note7, you’ll find yourself consigned to wandering like a lost soul, chained to a potentially exploding device that you can’t put away or even leave behind.
This is, of course, wonderful news for Apple, although Tim Cook is probably too polite to mention it. Not only are there a million Note7 users out there looking for a solution to their conundrum, but there are millions more who may have been ready to buy a Galaxy Note7, but now won’t. The Apple iPhone or scores of other Android models give them a logical place to go.
Now, I realize that there are some folks out there who are dedicated to one phone operating system or another and would never buy a phone from any other maker. For some Android partisans this might mean changing to a phone from LG or Motorola. But for most people, the OS is meaningless. In fact, when I ask non-technical phone users what OS they have, most don’t know.
Galaxy Note7 Users Searching for Ways to Safely Dispose of Their Units
What that means is that those users really only care that they have a smartphone, and whether it’s made by Samsung or Apple means little. Those people may have bought their last Samsung because it was on sale and they liked the price and features. Android, for them, isn’t an issue. When confronted with a potentially hazardous Samsung device, their primary need will be to get rid of it and buy something safer.
That something safer might be a Samsung Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge, if they’re willing to move to a smaller screen. Or, it may be that they want a phablet, which could move them to an iPhone 7 Plus. While they would give up the stylus that the Note has, this might not matter. I know when I’ve used a Samsung Note with the stylus in the past, it’s been nice, but not transformative.
While Apple and other smartphone makers might benefit from this situation, the bigger issue is the damage this battery problem is doing to Samsung. It means that not only Samsung has lost the cost of producing a million defective Note7 units, but it also has had to interrupt its supply chain to replace those million units with new devices. This is going to push back Samsung’s production and sales schedule at least a couple of months.
More than that, the battery issue has shaken customer trust in Samsung and the Note7 brand. The company will have to go the extra mile to restore consumer confidence—not just in the Note7, but all other Samsung mobile devices. And the damage doesn’t stop there.
The fact that Samsung has let potentially hazardous batteries slip through the company’s QA process and get to consumers will reflect on the reliability of its other mobile devices. After all, just because the S7 hasn’t been found to have flammable batteries doesn’t mean it won’t.
At the very least, Samsung is going to have to find a way to rebuild customers’ trust in its products, which may be tough considering the Korean device maker already was battling stagnant sales. In addition to waging an all-out campaign to rekindle user trust, Samsung will need to find a way to appeal to new users again. Oh, and it will have to defend against all of those legal actions that are sure to start cropping up from damage claims resulting from Note7 fires.
But if Apple is going to ride the wave of Samsung distrust, it’s also going to have to find a way to appeal to those users who previously favored all things Android.
To accomplish this, Apple must address departing Note7 users without criticizing their prior choice by simply saying they can do everything with the iPhone 7 that they could with the Note7.