After the success of the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge last year, the Galaxy Note 7 was destined to follow the same footsteps. In fact, soon after the official launch, the first impressions from media were extremely positive. But just then, the worst possible nightmare struck. And today, the only memories we have about the Galaxy Note 7 is a device that overheated and went up in flames.
The Galaxy Note 7 had an issue with a faulty battery – packing a larger capacity one in a smaller compartment. Sure, Samsung did everything it could to avert disaster – be it via recalling the devices, or rolling out an over-the-air (OTA) update to restrict battery charging at 60 percent. And just when we moved past the entire saga, when the whole incident was phasing out of popular memory, Samsung is all set to relaunch the Galaxy Note 7 with a new name and some alterations. But is it really necessary to do so?
The fault in Galaxy Note 7
It all started when the industry learned that the Apple iPhone 7 won’t be radically different from the iPhone 6s in design. Minor upgrades were expected. And to make the most of this opportunity, Samsung rushed the production of Galaxy Note 7, but in the process, some blunders crept in.
Soon after the issue cropped up, Samsung recalled the Galaxy Note 7 units and replaced the faulty batteries. Samsung did thorough testing to understand the root cause. After the investigation, the company concluded that short circuit in the battery caused the issue.
The damage to the separator allowed the positive and negative electrodes to meet within the jellyroll, thus causing short circuit. However, there were separate factors that caused the issue in the initial lot and replaced batteries. ALSO READ: Samsung Galaxy Note 7 explosions were caused by two set of faulty batteries
The second lot of batteries had an issue where the positive electrodes inflated. This caused the penetration of separator and insulation tape resulting in direct contact between the positive and negative electrode. And if that wasn’t enough, several batteries were missing the insulation tape, making it easier to cause short circuit, catch fire and explode.
Galaxy Note 7 recall
After already taking a bullet, Samsung went ahead to recall all the Galaxy Note 7 units for the safety and well-being of users. The company even went ahead to write an apology letter, backed with full-page ads. The whole saga caused a loss of $5 billion to Samsung. The Korean giant and managed to recover around 96 percent of Note 7 devices from customers – both global and in the US.
The present day scenario
After all that ‘some’ Galaxy Note 7 users had to go through, the best possible way for Samsung would have been to forget the whole incident, and go with a fresh start. Much of it can be already seen – people have moved one, and the company’s latest smartphones, the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+, have shattered the sales numbers. ALSO READ: Samsung Galaxy Note 7 to relaunch with smaller 3,200mAh battery as Fan Edition on July 7: Report
But it seems like Samsung hasn’t gotten over the fiasco. For months, we had been seeing the Galaxy Note 7 in leaked benchmarks and hearing rumors that Samsung might relaunch the smartphone with a few modifications. Putting all rumors to the bed, Samsung has officially announced that it will indeed be relaunching the Galaxy Note 7 as Galaxy Note Fan Edition in its home market, Korea.
It will be a limited release with only 400,000 quantities going up on sale, and depending on kind of response Samsung gets, it will further roll out additional devices in select markets. While the design and components remain the same, Samsung has cut down on the battery capacity from 3,500mAh to a smaller 3,200mAh one.
Is relaunching the Galaxy Note 7 a right move?
Now, this question has the potential to have a debate, and it can get a little controversial too. But there are many ways to look at it. To being with, the Galaxy Note 7 was not a bad device after-all. It featured one of the best designs with front and back glass, top-of-the-line hardware, water and dust resistance. It was also the first smartphone to come with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection.
Despite Samsung reaching out to customers, encouraging them to send back all the faulty Galaxy Note 7 units back to the company, a lot of them refrained from doing so, and continued using them. The Samsung Galaxy Note Fan Edition is aimed at the Galaxy Note 7 lovers and ardent fans. In fact, the ‘Fan Edition’ device is being sold as a special edition to such customers. In a way, it could be Samsung’s effort to salvage what they can of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 – under terms like ‘recycling’ and ‘environmental damage protection.”
But, on the other side, rather than forgetting the worst nightmare and moving on, Samsung choosing to relaunch the device is more like reminding users that it did existed. In fact, relaunching the Galaxy Note 7 now is more like playing with fire. The only major issue with the Galaxy Note 7 was the battery, but there were no issues with other components. Rather than dumping these units as e-waste, it does make sense for Samsung to reuse those components and recover some costs. But it remains to be seen how good of a response it gets from the customers.
The Galaxy Note Fan Edition is expected to be priced at KRW 699,600 (approximately Rs 39,500), which is a big discount compared to the Galaxy Note 7 India launch price of Rs 59,990. The approximate Rs 20,000 discount could eventually lure users to buy the smartphone for less.
However, with the Galaxy Note 8 due to launch soon, and Galaxy S8 already working well, it will be interesting to see if the Galaxy Note Fan Edition can attract customers. In the meanwhile, we would like to hear from our readers if they would prefer buying the Galaxy Note Fan Edition at the discounted price.
Here’s what the industry experts have to say
BGR India reached out to a few analysts to understand their views on Samsung relaunching the Galaxy Note 7. Counterpoint Research’s Tarun Pathak said, “looking at the moment that the new Galaxy S8-series has got, the relaunch of the phablet as Galaxy Note Fan Edition has less to do with market share, but more to do with the components that are lying around. Samsung is also looking to restore the faith again for customers who would be looking to buy the upcoming Galaxy Note 8.”
With all the check points added to the battery test process, and selling the smartphone for about 30 percent less than the official price of the Galaxy Note 7, Samsung will also be looking to minimize the losses incurred in the recall process.
We also spoke to Gartner’s Research Director, Anshul Gupta to talk about the new Galaxy Note Fan Edition. He highlighted that fact that there is still sometime until the Galaxy Note 8 launch. In a nutshell, Samsung launched a device, it had issues, they fixed it and now relaunching it. The move is more likely to show that the company has identified the issue and fixed it.
“There is a kind of user or segment which is attracted to the Note category with stylus. Without Samsung relaunching it, they were losing on that audience. And with the Note 8 launch still a couple of months ahead, relaunching the Galaxy Note Fan Edition allows Samsung to capitalize on that segment,” Gupta said.
Lastly, we also spoke to IDC’s Navkendar Singh. He believes “Samsung has two-fold objective – use high-quality components and parts from the Note 7, and rebuild and reinforce the Samsung brand image as a provider of “quality” devices. This would show that Samsung has successfully identified and fixed the problem.”
Navkendar further added saying “And with the initial quantity being mere 400,000 (which is minuscule for Samsung, even for its any new premium smartphone launch), and with a price drop of around 30 percent from Note 7 price, there is a possibility that this will do well to the extent of units being put out in the market.”