The Samsung Galaxy Note7 hit the markets with a bang, but not the good kind. Brand new phones have exploded, possibly setting fire to a jeep, charring a hotel room, and badly denting Samsung’s reputation just as it was seeing an upward trend.
Explosions have also been reported even using the phone normally (and not charging it), and airlines including SQ now prohibit the use or charging of the Note7 on board flights, contributing to more than US$25 billion sliced off Samsung’s market value in less than two weeks.
What’s making these new phones so trigger-happy? In the Note7’s case it seems a battery flaw in some devices (less than 0.01% of the 2.5 million made) is leading to a short circuit and runaway heating. Samsung’s push to debut its phone a full month ahead of Apple’s iPhone 7 may also have compromised quality checks, according to some analysts.
Singapore users thankfully have not seen their phones go boom, but a one-to-one exchange is already underway- although you may not know it by visiting Samsung’s Singapore page. There, Note7’s features are still prominently advertised (including its battery features), along with a brief mention of its exchange program. If you’d like to pick up your new Note7, book your appointment by September 25. Actual exchanges start from September 16 to October 2, either at Suntec, or via free home delivery.
In the face of this explosive gaffe, Samsung Singapore has at least shown commendable flexibility about the phones it accepts for exchange, even welcoming Note7s that are missing accessories:
Or avid swimmers:
On top of your new (and hopefully less flammable) replacement, local users will also receive a Samsung screen protector and $30 worth of shopping vouchers (no refund, or free VR headset like overseas exchanges, but better than nothing).
On their part, Samsung’s efforts to make up for people risking an explosion simply by powering up, disrupting folks’ smartphone usage, and the trouble of exchanges is estimated to be costing the company hundreds of millions of dollars.
As Samsung fights fires, Apple gains ground (Twitter polls by CNET suggest 48.5% of Note7 users now want to switch to iPhones). Apple’s new iPhone however has not escaped its share of image problems (or the smuggling of 400 iPhone 7s into China). Apparently the iPhone 7’s classy “This is 7” tagline woodenly translates into “This is penis” in Cantonese slang (a facepalm-worthy moment that may find its match – if the naming trend goes the way it normally does – with the future Samsung’s Note9 which sounds like “c**t”.) In addition, in China the most popular colour – called 2B for the two colours Back and Jet black – incidentally means “idiot” in Chinese slang.
As the smartphone giants pay for their errors – Samsung for its exploding devices, and Apple for anatomically nicknaming its products – the lesson is clear: watch your step even during intense races, or you just might experience an embarrassing faceplant.
By Vincent Tan