Engadget's senior editor, Richard Lai, spotted something disturbing in Hong Kong: a shop selling the discontinued Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphone at a "special price." We do not know what the special price is, perhaps the store has discounted the device because of the risk of it exploding, or perhaps the price has been increased because these are getting difficult to find? Of course, the reason why they are difficult if not almost impossible to buy is because there is a flaw in the battery design of the device, which can cause it to explode either on or off the charger. Although Samsung hasn't confirmed the exact reason for the battery failure, it has explained that the original fault is related to a short circuit. Industry experts believe this is caused by a compromised barrier between the different components of the lithium battery inside the device: when the two sides of the battery mix, this can cause a "thermal runaway", which causes a rapid build up of hot gas in the battery. This can either catch fire or explode.
Samsung originally launched the Galaxy Note 7 in August 2016 and shortly afterwards, reports came in all over the world of the device suffering from battery problems. The device was recalled to be replaced with a new model - the Galaxy Note 7 has an internal, embedded battery that may not be replaced but instead the whole device needs replacing. As consumers started to receive the replacement Samsung Galaxy Note 7, things seemed to be getting back to normal until an American airliner had to be evacuated because of a Galaxy Note 7 whilst taxiing for the runway. Since then, Samsung has recalled all Galaxy Note 7 devices to be recycled or otherwise "safely disposed" and the smartphone has been banned from flights and mass transportation systems including America's Amtrak.
We cannot be certain why this store has a stock of Samsung Galaxy Note 7s. It is possible that the store is unable to return these to Samsung and is instead recommending customers complete the official Samsung replacement process, and so the price is close to that of the refund from Samsung. Alternatively, perhaps the store is not saying anything to customers and instead they are buying the Galaxy Note 7 on the assumption that it may be used as an ordinary device. We may start to see third party battery vendors producing a replacement, safe battery for the Galaxy Note 7. Certainly, we are sure Samsung will move to close down this operation as any additional Galaxy Note 7 fire-related issues would be bad news for the company.