After more than 100 reports of battery fires and explosions since the handset’s release in August, Samsung’s Note7 flagship smartphone is no more. Samsung is permanently stopping production of the ill-fated handset, for which reports of fires and explosions related to its integrated rechargeable battery continued to accumulate, even after a global recall.
The announcement of the Note7’s demise arrived through a Samsung statement filed with the South Korean stock exchange, according to an Oct. 11 report by The New York Times. The statement said the company has made a “final decision” to end production of the handset model, which was introduced in New York in August at a special “Galaxy Unpacked” event, where company officials were excited to show off the new phone and its improved stylus, its brilliant screen, its powerful cameras and its built-in enterprise security features.
Instead, the Note7 is now being pulled from the market permanently and will not be sold or distributed again, according to unnamed sources who spoke to The Times about the situation.
A Samsung spokesman could not immediately be reached by eWEEK on Oct. 11 to discuss the decision.
The scrapping of the Note7 comes just a day after Samsung announced that it was temporarily suspending its production of the handsets after at least two reports surfaced about fires or explosions involving replacement Note7 handsets that were manufactured after the battery problems were supposedly corrected. In addition, sales and warranty exchanges of the handsets were also being stopped while investigations into the reports continued.
First a Temporary Halt and Then a Permanent Stop
“We are temporarily adjusting the Galaxy Note7 production schedule in order to take further steps to ensure quality and safety matters,” Samsung told eWEEK in an Oct. 10 email reply to an inquiry. Samsung said it was working with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to investigate the recently reported cases involving the replacement Galaxy Note7 smartphones.
The move to temporarily halt production of the phones didn’t last long, though, before the company pulled the plug permanently on the devices.
Jan Dawson, chief analyst for Jackdaw Research, told eWEEK that Samsung’s decision to end the Note7 debacle is not a surprise at this point.
“It’s hard to see how the scenario could have played out differently once the problems emerged,” said Dawson. “Arguably, the only way to have avoided this was not to have rushed production in the first place to try to get the phone out before the iPhone 7, which seems to have been part of the underlying cause here.”
In the aftermath of the rise and fall of the Note7, “it appears there may be something in the design of the phone that puts too much pressure on the battery, as if the components are packed in just a little too tightly,” said Dawson in looking for an explanation for the battery fires that plagued the devices. “Given what’s happened with this second round of problems, it seems possible that this wasn’t just an issue that affected one manufacturer, but rather was an issue with the design itself.”
Despite the entire Note7 episode, Samsung will ultimately survive the ordeal, after likely going through a rough patch, said Dawson.
“Absolutely, Samsung will still be in the smartphone business a couple of years from now—this certainly won’t knock them out of the market or anything,” he said. “But it’s quite possible we’ll see another period of declining sales as we did a few years back while they work through this and figure out how to come back from it.”
Samsung has been “doing well both with the quality of their phones and in their financial performance over the past year or so, so the components of what they need to do to recover are there,” said Dawson. “They just need to weather this storm first.”
Note7 customers who have original or replacement Note7 handsets are being told by the company and by the CPSC to power down their smartphones immediately and exchange them for another Samsung smartphone, including a Galaxy S7 or Galaxy S7 Edge, or seek a full refund where they bought their devices. Consumers who have questions about what to do with their phones can go to the company’s Website at samsung.com/us/note7recall, or call the company at 1-844-365-6197.
When Samsung reintroduced its supposedly fixed Note7 flagship smartphone Sept. 21 to replace earlier units that experienced reported battery fires and explosions, the company likely thought the worst of the battery woes were over.
Samsung Ends Note7 Smartphone Production Permanently After Fires
Samsung’s Note7 smartphone woes lingered for more than five weeks after reports began coming in about battery fires and explosions just after the devices were first debuted in late August. Samsung addressed those initial reports by investigating the devices that had fires and starting its own global recall, and then in September cooperated with U.S. regulators at the CPSC when the agency issued a government recall of a million of the handsets due to at least 100 reports of fires and explosions from consumers.
But in late September, after new post-recall phones began being distributed, new reports of battery fires began arriving. The first came in from a consumer in China who said that his brand-new, post-recall Note7 smoked and caught fire, while earlier in October another replacement Note7 reportedly began smoking in a Southwest Airlines jet in Texas as the aircraft prepared to depart.
Instead of showing off its flagship Note7 phone to a waiting marketplace, Samsung had to concentrate on fixing a worrisome fire problem and hoped that its consumers didn’t start heading for the exits.
After the Southwest Airlines fire report, Samsung issued a statement on Oct. 7 that said it was investigating the report and will “share findings as soon as possible.” The company said it was in close contact with the CPSC about the new report.
“Samsung understands the concern our carriers and consumers must be feeling after recent reports have raised questions about our newly released replacement Note7 devices,” the statement said. “If we conclude a safety issue exists, we will work with the CPSC to take immediate steps to address the situation. We want to reassure our customers that we take every report seriously and we appreciate their patience as we work diligently through this process.”
The CPSC, which ordered the Samsung recall in September, quickly launched an investigation into the Note7 fire incident on the jet.
Some 1 million Note7 smartphones were recalled Sept. 15 by the CPSC after at least 92 battery fires or explosions were reported with the new phones due to a defect in the handsets’ batteries. 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 Note7 has some similarities to Samsung’s S7 and S7 Edge smartphones, which were released in March, as well as some new features. The Note7 is a 4G LTE phone with all-new iris-scanning capabilities for security, an integrated S Pen stylus, a first-ever “Secure Folder” feature and other updates aimed at making users productive and creative. It is slimmer and more rounded compared with the previous version, the Note 5, which debuted in August 2015.
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 on-board storage, a microSD slot for additional storage via memory cards up to 256GB and the Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow operating system.