The anatomy of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 recall

exploded note 7

Apparently, gently suggesting that people return Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones that might have been prone to exploding wasn't a strong enough move.

So now, Samsung, along with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, has issued an official U.S. recall for around 1 million phones. This comes weeks after news that the Note 7's battery could overheat and catch fire got out, and weeks after the South Korean electronics giant started calling for a voluntary recall of the devices. But not enough people were getting the message, and accidents were still happening. So what took so long?

In IT Blogwatch, we grab a fire exstringuisher.

What's the deal with the official recall? Jing Cao and Yoolim Lee have the details:

Samsung unveiled a global replacement program for the big-screen device two weeks ago, but the formal recall on Thursday by U.S. safety regulators...makes the sale of affected devices illegal and sets other guidelines.
Of the 2.5 million Note 7 phones...shipped, about 1 million were sold in the U.S...There have been about 92 reports of batteries overheating, with 26 cases involving burns and 55 involving property damage...Customers who bought a Note 7 before Sept. 15 should immediately stop using [it] and turn off their phones, the CPSC said.

But what took so long? Didn't we first hear about this problem weeks ago? Matt Hamblen gives us the background:

In fact, Samsung issued a global recall of Note 7s on Sept. 2...however, there was confusion about whether that...meant users should...stop using the smartphones or charging them, since the fires were traced to problems with lithium ion batteries...on Sept. 10, Samsung...urged Note 7 users in the U.S. to "power down" the device and "exchange it now."
As of Wednesday, there was no formal CPSC recall for the U.S...A software upgrade to lessen the power that could be charged to a Note 7 in use in South Korea also hadn't been approved for use in the U.S.

So why did Samsung drag its feet for so long? Daniel Eran Dilger fills in the blanks:

The same day the company first acknowledged the seriousness of the problem...Consumer Reports urged Samsung to officially recall its Galaxy Note 7...Samsung spent another 13 days discussing the issue...A snapshot of internet comments...indicates...many people...don't understand the risk involved, while others are...claiming that most phones probably aren't defective.
The lack of action taken by Samsung and by its customers has...prompted multiple U.S. government agencies to step rapidly stop the use of Samsung's defective phones...Additional fires and burns related to Samsung phones have...been reported, including a Samsung Galaxy Core Prime that burned a six year old boy in Brooklyn, New York.

So what should you do if you have a Note 7? John Hoff is in the know:

Samsung said...U.S. customers...can return affected Note 7 units with three options -- first, for a new Note 7 device that should arrive no later than September 21, 2016...secondly, for a Samsung Galaxy S7 or S7 edge, and they will get the price gap refunded to them, or thirdly, just get a full refund of your money.

So what do customers think about this whole thing? Thomas Huynh chooses his words carefully:

Samsung burst into the mobile market with innovative phones. They were on fire. Currently they literally continue to do it.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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