The Galaxy Note7 was arguably one of the biggest, if not, the biggest tech story in all of 2016. A phone that was initially released to great reviews and loved by its community ended up being a singificant setback and led many to question how the Note will evolve after this whole debacle.
Over a year has passed since the Note7 was launched, and on the day this article was published last year, the Note7 would be officially cancelled. Since its successor, the Galaxy Note8, is rolling out across several countries as part of its launch, it’s perhaps a good time to look back at the Note that could’ve been.
THE NOTE7 IN A NUTSHELL
The Galaxy Note7 in essence was the 6th main member of the Galaxy Note line. While it was initially speculated that it would be called the Galaxy Note6 (as its predecessor was called the Note5 owing to it being the 5th main member in the lineup), Samsung decided to skip the number 6 and go straight to 7 in order to achieve parity with the Galaxy S7, which received positive reviews owing to its improvements over the S6, particularly its battery life.
Like its predecessors, the Galaxy Note7 takes design cues from its S-line counterpart of the same generation. The Note7 follows the same metal/glass design language as the Note5 while adding a dual-curved edge display that supports HDR that’s more subtle in comparison to the Galaxy S7 edge and also includes a refined S Pen with a higher pressure sensitivity along with a narrower tip for fine writing. The Note7 also inherits the same 1/2.6” IMX260/ISOCELL12MP dual-photodiode camera sensor and module from the S7 line and has a battery 500mAh larger in capacity than the Note5 and both it plus the S Pen are IP68 certified, like the Galaxy S7. The processor is the same Exynos 8890/Snapdragon 820 as the S7 backed up by the same 4GB of LPDDR4 memory. It also has one party trick; an iris scanner, supplemented by a Secure Folder feature in its software, of which it has received a redesign called the Grace UX, which looks significantly cleaner and more cohesive while also adding new features for its S Pen like GIF Capture.
The Note7 received positive reviews on launch, with praise directed towards its ergonomics, display and cleaned up Grace UX software along with other niceties such as the IP68 certification, although some were skeptical on its $850 price tag and Samsung’s future plans for the Note lineup. Nevertheless, the Note7 sold well and was well on its way on being a success, as fans loved it.
OR SO THEY THOUGHT…
Shortly after the Note7 was released, a report out of China claimed that one Note7 has caught fire and its battery had exploded inside the device. Of course, people were skeptical and thought that this was an isolated incident and used their phones without worry.
Until it happened again. And again. And again.
Eventually, it became clear that something was indeed very wrong with the Note7, and Samsung has temporarily halted production in order to assess what went wrong. A few days after production was temporarily ceased, DJ Koh announced that due to a fault in battery cells manufactured by Samsung SDI, the device will be voluntarily recalled.
Updates were pushed out to original Note7 units that stopped the device from charging beyond 60% and would regularly pop a message urging users to turn off the phone and to replace it as soon as replacements were live. After a while, replacement Galaxy Note7s were available and after it went back on sale, things slowly went back to normal…
…until the same thing happened on these replacement units.
At which point, it became clear that something was indeed very, very wrong with the device and Samsung made the decision to permanently discontinue the device and carrier partners urged customers to return the device for a refund or a Galaxy S7e or competing device from other manufacturers.
Obviously, the effect was not small at all, as Samsung lost billions in potential sales and a fair bit of public “face” for the recall. However, their decision to issue a voluntary recall, and also publicize their findings and vowing to make sure it doesn’t again seems to have helped as the company has rebounded in a way that makes it seem as if the Note7 disaster had never occurred, with the S8 line selling pretty well, and initial sales of the Note8 being healthy as well.
WHAT TO LOOK FORWARD TO
The Galaxy Note8 is now on sale across many regions around the globe, and early sales data seems to indicate that it is off to a very strong start. Yours truly has one as his daily driver and is pleased to announce the official review will be coming soon.
Overall, many lessons were learned with the Note7 debacle. Samsung has learned all about transparency and the need to ensure that key information is available as soon as possible to alleviate doubts. For the industry, it’s to understand that there is a limit to everything and pushing too far can have undesirable consequences and to consumers, it’s also a lesson to never put too much faith in a brand. Every company will have its own share of giant screwups, so don’t take that for granted.
To close, let’s just say this. While it is genuinely sad to see a phone with so much potential being killed off by a manufacturing fault, the lessons it taught are indispensable and has helped make future devices safer and also give a deeper understand to how lithium batteries work. For that, your death was not in vain, Note7. R.I.P.