Samsung Officially Halts Production Of Galaxy Note 7 Phones

Oct 11, 2016
Originally published on October 16, 2016 9:43 am
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Samsung Electronics is killing off its Galaxy Note 7 smartphone less than three months after unveiling it. The high-end device had a big problem. A massive recall targeted millions of phones, but the smoke and fire incidents continued. And is NPR's Laura Sydell reports, experts are divided over whether the company's smartphone business can bounce back.

LAURA SYDELL, BYLINE: Galaxy Note 7 ads promoting it as Samsung's most innovative phone.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: With the first ever Note with a stunning 5.7-inch dual curved screen so it feels as good as it looks in the palm of your hand.

SYDELL: The Galaxy Note 7 looked so good that Chad Tator (ph) decided to give up his seven-year loyalty to the iPhone. He liked the stylus pen.

CHAD TATOR: As far as, like, sending texts and, like, sending people pictures and things like that, it's a lot easier to crop out a photo I guess with the stylus than it is with just my fingers.

SYDELL: When the news first broke of reports that Galaxy Note 7 phones were overheating and catching fire, Tator was upset. But he was ready to get the replacement Samsung offered. And then the news broke that the replacement phones were having the same problems.

TATOR: With it happening twice and so soon, it really just questions what did they check? And then is there design fall that they're just not aware of that's causing that to happen? And it's just really not worth the risk at this point to try to keep it.

SYDELL: This is the worst possible outcome for Samsung. Analyst Tim Bajarin (ph) says part of Samsung's push with this phone was to be out in time to compete with the iPhone 7.

TIM BAJARIN: They rushed this to market, and as a result, heads are going to roll inside Samsung.

SYDELL: Bajarin says even though Samsung has many other phones and products on the market - televisions, tablets, cameras - this incident could do a lot of damage to its entire lineup.

BAJARIN: The bigger issue that Samsung's going to have to deal with is the trust factor. So it's going to have a significant impact on brand.

SYDELL: But other analysts think that despite the fact that the replacement phone also had problems, Samsung has done a great job of managing the fallout. John Jacobs is a business professor at Georgetown University who thinks deciding to stop making the phone was the right choice.

JOHN JACOBS: Most customers and consumers will look at them and say, this is the company that wanted to make sure they didn't put a bad product out in the marketplace. When they found out they couldn't fix it, they pulled it, and they're moving forward.

SYDELL: And Jacobs may have a point.

What kind of phone are you talking to me from?

CHRIS BROWN: The Samsung Galaxy Note 7.

SYDELL: This is Chris Brown (ph). He's a longtime user of Samsung smartphones. He plans to actually keep using his Galaxy Note 7.

BROWN: I still think it's a little premature to call back an entire device. I understand there have been fires, but when you think about in terms of the number of devices put out in a market, it's still minuscule.

SYDELL: But new customers like Chad Tator are not sticking around to find out whether the phone they have is going to start smoking. Tator says his wife never wanted to switch from Apple anyway.

TATOR: My wife wasn't too keen on switching over, so she eventually got her way, and we're going back to Apple.

SYDELL: So she's smirking at you.

TATOR: Yep.

SYDELL: Tator and his wife will have lots of company. The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission is telling consumers to stop using their Samsung Galaxy Note 7s immediately. Laura Sydell, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.