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Galaxy Note 7 recall: What to do with the phone until it is replaced?

Matt Hamblen | Sept. 5, 2016
Don't panic, some analysts say: Fire reports about the latest device are only a small portion of total numbers sold

"Nobody wants a phone that goes up in flames," said IDC analyst Ramon Llamas. "I'd err on the side of caution. One case of a phone catching on fire is one too many. If there are 35 reported fires, that's too many. I suggest using your common sense."

Gartner analyst Tuong Nguyen said it is a "tricky question" whether a Note 7 user should stop using his or her phone. "I'm clearly not qualified to say what to do, but.... if I have another phone, I'd use that for a while as Samsung works through what to do. Or I'd take it back to the store and see what the channel partners can do about it immediately."

Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates, said consumers with little tech experience will have no clue about what to do until Samsung offers more details. "Not to blow this out of proportion is important. It's a very small number of defective devices we are talking about. Even if the total is 10 times the 35 reported, that is a rounding error. There needs to be a PR balance between giving people information and not scaring consumers. So, saying what to do if the phone gets smelly or overheats may actually be too much information for some to understand and may actually scare them needlessly."

Nguyen said it will be interesting to see how Samsung offers assurances that the replacement Note 7's, once available, are safe. "It's bad publicity to have your flagship product literally go up in flames," he said. "They are an honorable company and ... they have to convince people it won't happen again."

He added, "Personally, I don't think it's cause for huge alarm, but it comes down to individual tolerance. Some might worry if they charge it overnight and leave it plugged in the next day, the worst that could happen is if the house gets burned down."

Llamas said he generally tells people not to charge any phone overnight, mainly because it can lead to battery wear over many months of doing so.

Ultimately, Samsung may find that a product from an outside company -- like a third-party battery charger -- was related to the fires, Nguyen said. Some reports have speculated that the lithium-ion batteries inside the Note 7s are to blame, which Samsung seemed to indicate when it said, "we are currently conducting a thorough inspection with our suppliers to identify possible affected batteries in the market."

Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, said that Samsung has "done a pretty good job so far with the recall, but could take that next step and tell current users what they should do right now with their phones."


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