Samsung has a new, but not unfamiliar, struggle with its Galaxy Note 7: at least eight replacement devices have caught on fire. The South Korean company has reportedly temporarily stopped production of the smartphone and various U.S. carriers have halted sales.
While Samsung spokeswoman Jee Hye-ryong has said that the company is “temporarily adjusting the Galaxy Note 7 production schedule in order to take further steps to ensure quality and safety matters,” media outlets in South Korea and the U.S. are reporting otherwise. According to Korean Yonhap News Agency and the Wall Street Journal, both citing anonymous sources, Samsung—which has yet to make an official statement about its production strategy or the cause behind the new exploding batteries—is ending production of the gadget entirely. In the U.S., major carriers like Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile have suspended sales and exchanges of the smartphone.
“Samsung understands the concern our carriers and consumers must be feeling after recent reports have raised questions about our newly released replacement Note7 devices,” said Samsung in a statement on Oct. 7, 2016. “We continue to move quickly to investigate the reported case to determine the cause and will share findings as soon as possible. We remain in close contact with the CPSC throughout this process. If we conclude a safety issue exists, we will work with the CPSC to take immediate steps to address the situation. We want to reassure our customers that we take every report seriously and we appreciate their patience as we work diligently through this process.”
In light of this news, many are predicting the Note 7 is done for— Recode has said it, Mashable has said it, and The Washington Post has said it. Recode’s argument is simple: “The Note 7 isn’t going to get a third chance.” Mashable, meanwhile, argues that Samsung has not been as transparent as it should be by merely citing battery issues. “An overheating of the battery cell occurred when the anode-to-cathode came into contact which is a very rare manufacturing process error,” said Samsung.
There’s bound to be consumer distrust but whether the device is truly done for may still be up in the air. Redemption will lie in Samsung being able to prove that new devices—if there even will be new replacement products—are not going to catch on fire. The company outlined a few ways for users to know their first round of replacement devices are safe, but clearly those precautions were not foolproof. And, as Mashable noted, the company needs to be more forthcoming about what the real issue is and why it happened for a second time.
Samsung is not the first company to go through such an ordeal and other gadgets have survived bad press and consumer frustration. Apple recalled iPhone 5s sold between Sept. 201 and Jan. 2013 over battery life problems, recalled European iPhone chargers in 37 countries for overheating, and even recalled some iPhone 6 Plus devices for taking blurry pictures. The company also suffered from “antennagate” and “bendgate”—the former was about iPhone 4 reception problems and the latter was about iPhone 6 devices bending when under certain amounts of pressure. While neither issue were as widespread or dangerous as Samsung’s current problem, in the case of antennagate, Apple’s initial response entailed not owning up to the issue, as they initially defended their gadget by citing similar flaws in other device’s on the market.
Samsung, to its credit, quickly addressed the initial reports of devices catching on fire by issuing a worldwide recall (a “product exchange program) of 2.5 million Galaxy Note 7s and stopping all sales.
“Samsung is taking a proactive approach to address customer needs around the Note7,” said Tim Baxter, president of Samsung Electronics America, in a statement at the time. “We are encouraging customers to exchange their Note7 by taking advantage of our Product Exchange Program. The safety and satisfaction of our customers is Samsung’s top priority.”
It is entirely possible that the Galaxy Note 7 is done. It’s also possible we will never know because Samsung will cut its losses and retire the device. But it is also possible that the company manages to redeem the device by spotlighting the exact problem and outlining how they are addressing it.