Every company falters from time to time. They find out what’s wrong, they apologize to their customers, they try to fix it or if they can’t fix it, they move on and ensure it is not repeated again. With tech companies we have seen it with Nokia’s battery recall, with Apple’s Antennagate and Bendgate but things are on a different level altogether with Samsung and its “explosive” Galaxy Note 7. If the original exploding Galaxy Note 7 units and the strange way Samsung handled the recall process wasn’t enough, new reports are suggesting that even the “safe” Galaxy Note 7 units, which were supposed to replace the faulty ones, are exploding. Also Read - Amazon Prime Day sale deals revealed: Discount on OnePlus Nord CE, Mi 11X, Samsung Galaxy M42Also Read - Galaxy A22 replaces M42 5G to become the cheapest 5G Samsung phone in India
Samsung has not been able to recover all the unsafe Galaxy Note 7 units from its recall, which is expected considering some of the initial shipments would have reached grey markets around the world where Samsung had not yet launched the device. Then there are those who find it too cumbersome to go through the recall process and figure it would be okay to use the product and that they’d be careful while charging and using it. There could also be those who would have bought the phones from the US and other countries and brought them to their own countries. They have no recourse of getting the units returned or exchanged. So there is no way Samsung would be able to recover all the units. Also Read - Gorilla Glass DX, DX+ to now protect your phone cameras, will debut on a Samsung phone
Touted as one of the best devices created by Samsung till date, the Galaxy Note 7 has been anything but that. Despite spending millions of dollars on globally recalling units and getting them replaced with new ones, reports of safe units combusting continue to surface online. But with even the replaced units turning out to be faulty and reports claiming Samsung knew about at least one incident that it tried to play down and probably even bury, the question needs to be asked — what is Samsung trying to achieve? So far we have had incidents of property burning, smoke inside a plane, people suffering burns and even one person being rushed to the ER. What would it take Samsung to put a stop to all of this? Someone’s death?
I strongly believe it is time for Samsung to come clean, acknowledge that it has goofed up, and immediately discontinue the Galaxy Note 7. An acknowledgment would no doubt put a huge dent in Samsung’s numbers, as well as its brand image. But it should be a temporary dip, and something that the company will be able to overcome by getting its next flagship device right. But imagine if an exploding Galaxy Note 7 unit were to result in the death of a user, that would be nigh impossible to overcome. Samsung says currently there are over a million users with a ‘safe’ Galaxy Note 7 unit, and that’s a lot of lives at stake.
When the first reports of Galaxy Note 7 units exploding surfaced online, Samsung took nearly three weeks to acknowledge the issue with manufacturing. It said that devices manufactured by one supplier had a defect that caused the separators to malfunction, resulting in the diodes to come in contact with each other. This in turn resulted in the battery overheating and eventually combusting. As the number of reported combustion increased, transport authorities put a ban on the device for the safety of fellow passengers. In flight announcements, for one, warned passengers against switching on their Galaxy Note devices or charging them while onboard.
To counter the growing negative publicity, Samsung issued a voluntary recall and promised to replace all the purchased devices. But the recall process was ad hoc and left consumers confused. Then there was the case of pushing out an OTA software update that limited the battery charging to a lower percentage that Samsung had figured out would be safe. The replaced devices would have a black dot on the retail box and also a green battery indicator to help buyers differentiate them from unsafe units. ALSO READ: 4 things Samsung could have learnt from Nokia s BL5C battery recall: An insider s account
Though Samsung won’t acknowledge, this entire issue could be more than just a manufacturing defect. It could be a case of Samsung being greedy in the ongoing specs war between most Android OEMs. A media report recently quoted the chairman of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission saying that the real reason for the batteries exploding is that the phone s battery was slightly too big for its compartment and the tight space pinched the battery, causing a short circuit.
But what does one do when even the so-called “safe” units turn out to be affected with the same problem? When they also seem to catch fire at will and could lead to fatal injuries. How long should Samsung take to “investigate” the situation to figure out whether the safe units are indeed safe? And should users continue to use the perceived safe units when some of them have proven to be ridden with the same problem as the unsafe ones? You cannot put a price to the life of your users and while these could turn out to be “isolated incidents” it is time Samsung steps up and shows it indeed cares for its customers safety AT ANY COST. That no drop in its stock value is significant enough when it comes to the safety of its customers.
It’s however not the end of the world. Samsung should investigate what went wrong with the Galaxy Note 7 and ensure it does not happen again. The investigation, however, cannot be a parallel process while its customers are using what currently looks like a ticking time bomb.