Samsung’s late 2016 flagship, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, was something of an industry-leading device. It combined a sleek, elegant design, fast and powerful internals, a great camera and screen combination and a high capacity battery. Unfortunately, there appears to have been a design flaw with the battery, which caused the internal components to mix and this, in turn, leads to an uncontrolled “thermal runaway” situation. In other words, the battery drastically overheats and can either catch fire or explode, or sometimes both. The device was first recalled for a replacement, but later recalled to be returned to the manufacturer with customers being compensated for their inconvenience and the Galaxy Note 7 removed from sale around the world.
During the Galaxy Note 7’s short life, Samsung successfully sold 3.06 million devices on the back of reviews combined with a strong marketing campaign. Because of the potentially dangerous flaw with the Galaxy Note 7, this means that Samsung has had to effectively count all devices back as they are returned to the manufacturer for recycling or disposal. On the weekend, Samsung announced that it has collected over 2.7 million units, close to 90% of all sold Note 7 devices. In the detail, it has collected more than 90% of sold devices in the European and North American market but in South Korea, this ratio is described as “slightly over 80%.”
Samsung have announced a number of software updates for the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 designed to encourage customers to return the device. These include reminders for customers on the screen and reducing the battery capacity of the handset. Originally, the battery capacity was reduced to 60% in October and the company has announced further plans, including banning charging the device in North America and reducing the charge capacity to 30% for the European market. Presumably, Samsung fears the potential lawsuits more from the American market compared with the European market. The company is also believed to be considering similar battery charge restrictions for the Canadian, Australian and New Zealand markets but for its home market, South Korea, the message here is that Samsung has “not determined” what further action to take. One consideration that Samsung may have is that as and when customers realize that Samsung’s software updates are reducing the functionality of their device, they may simply ignore the on-screen prompt to update the software.