Since getting a global replacement program under way for its recalled Note7 flagship smartphones a week ago, Samsung reports that about 90 percent of Note7 owners are choosing to get another new Note7 after turning in their first-run devices, some of which had problems with battery fires and explosions.
The recall is continuing around the world, the company said in a Sept. 27 announcement, with customers in the United States and Korea already returning about 60 percent of the defective Note7 handsets, while in Singapore, more than 80 percent of affected customers have returned their handsets for replacements.
“Just over three weeks ago, Samsung committed to a global replacement program for the Galaxy Note7,” D.J. Koh, president of Samsung’s mobile communications business, said in a statement. “Last week, that program began for the majority of markets and the progress is encouraging. Our focus now is to make sure that all affected devices are replaced as quickly and efficiently as possible.”
Some 90 percent of Galaxy Note7 users have been choosing to replace their phone with a new Note7 since the products became widely available, rather than choosing another Samsung smartphone or a refund, the company announced.
“We are humbled by our customers’ loyalty to the Galaxy Note7 device,” Koh continued. “This is why we want them to take advantage of their local replacement program so that they can continue to feel confident and excited every time they reach for their Galaxy Note7 device.”
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 comes because “the lithium-ion battery in the Galaxy Note7 smartphones can overheat and catch fire, posing a serious burn hazard to consumers,” the agency said.
Several IT analysts told eWEEK that they are not surprised that so many Note7 customers are choosing to get new Note7 devices to replace their recalled original handsets.
Jan Dawson, chief analyst at Jackdaw Research, said, “It makes sense that many Note7 owners are choosing to replace them with another Note7—the devices were very well reviewed, and if it really is just a battery issue, then a device with a battery from the new supplier should solve the problem.”
Some customers will no doubt “decide they can no longer trust Samsung, but the vast majority probably have previous experience with Samsung devices and know that they’re generally reliable,” he added. “But I expect this will all start to fade as a story by the end of October, and Samsung will be able to move on. Significant damage will have been done by then, of course, but I still think Samsung will recover.”
Another analyst, Charles King of Pund-IT, told eWEEK that he is not surprised by the high number of Note7 owners getting replacement Note7 handsets because “the Note7 is one of the top two or three premium phones in the market, meaning that it tends to attract customers who appreciate Samsung’s commitments to quality and innovation, and are willing to be first in line for new handsets. In other words, they’re the Samsung equivalents of the folks who stood in line to buy a new iPhone 7.”
For those users, he said, “an unintentional battery problem isn’t likely to put them off with the company.”
The 90 percent replacement figure given by Samsung is “a testament to Samsung’s recall efforts,” especially after it was criticized by some people early in the process for how it handled the initial battery fire problems, said King. “The company acted quickly to protect its customers, and to provide them new, problem-free Note7s. Unless another problem crops up for Samsung, Apple’s decision to kill the iPhone audio jack will likely result in more customer complaints and bad will than the Note7’s battery problems.”
Most Note7 Owners Want New Note7 Replacements, Samsung Claims
Tuong H. Nguyen, an analyst with Gartner, said the high number of users keeping their Note7 handsets also appears largely due to general consumer satisfaction with how Samsung handled the recall quickly. “From a consumer perspective, this is a pretty good experience compared to other product and service issues you typically expect. There was some confusion and delays [initially], but once it was all squared away, I think they quickly and effectively addressed the problem” after the CPSC ordered its recall.
Under the recall, the CPSC advised owners of the affected smartphones to immediately stop using and power down the recalled Galaxy Note7 devices purchased before Sept. 15 to prevent further fires or injuries.
The Samsung Note7 has been 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.
Consumers are being urged to contact their wireless carriers or the store where they bought their phones for a replacement Note7 phone that is free of the defect or for a refund of their purchase price. Galaxy Note7 owners can also contact Samsung toll-free at (844) 365-6197 anytime or go online at www.samsung.com to replace their phone or arrange a refund, according to the CPSC.
Samsung had announced its own initial recall program on Sept. 2 before the CPSC recall.