Monday, October 10, 2016

My experience with the Samsung Galaxy Note7

Goodbye Galaxy Note7

It is official now, Samsung is once again requesting Galaxy Note7 users to shut off their phone unil further notice. While they are not explicitly requesting users to return their device, the message is clear that the Galaxy Note7 might not be safe to use despite what they said with the recall a couple weeks back.

Samsung has been having a hard time lately with their new Galaxy Note7. They were forced to halt sales of their new flagship smartphone while Apple's new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus went on sale due to an investigation caused by a battery defect that was causing Note7's to explode. The fire hazard prompted Samsung to issue a global recall of all Note7 units that have been sold.

Since then, things have been going well for Samsung as they revealed that majority of Note7 users have taken advantage of the exchange program. But then, things took a turn for the worse as The Verge confirmed that a passenger onboard a Southwest Airlines flight witnessed his replacement Note7 smoking up and causing damages to the plane's floorboard.

To be honest, I was initially against the idea of doing the recall because I didn't feel the need but then more cases started to pop up and the thing jumped from a couple of isolated cases into a big big thing for Samsung with analyst estimating that Samsung has lost over $1 Billion in damages due to the recall process.

But right now, the case has been reopened once again as there has been several reports of the replacement Galaxy Note7 units exploding again. Samsung alongside the US Consumer Product and Safety Commission (CPSC) and the FAA are currently investigating the issue and according to a former executive of the CPSC, Samsung might announce a second global recall.

Personally, I believe that the problem with the exploding batteries is no longer just a manufacturing defect, rather it could very well be a flaw in the design as there has been a report by Bloomberg that reveals that Samsung actually sped up the launch of the Galaxy Note7 to have an upper hand over Apple's new iPhone 7 which is a minimal upgrade over previous iPhone(s).
That's what you get for skipping a version number
Right now, all US carriers have halted sales of the Galaxy Note7 and are allowing Note7 customers to exchange or refund their Note7 with another smartphone. To be honest, I have been considering swapping out my Note7 but there is really only two options for me right now which is the Pixel XL and iPhone 7. But in my opinion, neither devices are comparable to the Note7.

September 21 Recall

So, about two weeks ago, I go my replacement phone from T-Mobile and the process wasn't as smooth as it could've been because customer representatives were not fully trained to do these kind of procedures and the fact that there is some sort of miscommunication between T-Mobile and Samsung in general caused certain delays. I had to call up and visit T-Mobile a couple of times to hunt down for the replacement Note7 unit.

Free gift(s):

  • S Pen ($20)
  • Gear Fit2 ($180)
  • Gear VR ($99)
  • Samsung Rewards card ($45)
  • Dunkin Donuts gift card ($10)

But despite that, there is a silver lining with this Note7 recall and that is the free stuff that I received. During the recall, Samsung only wanted the phone so they could extract the potentially defective battery. That meant that I could keep all the accessories including the S Pen. So, now I have double the amount of accessories.

In addition to that, there was a glitch with the Samsung Promotions site that enabled Note7 users to take advantage of the promotion meant for the Galaxy S7/Edge and I got myself a Gear VR through the promotion. I also got the Gear Fit2 with the first Samsung Promotions offer meant for the Galaxy Note7.

Also, with the replacement Note7, Samsung also had a Samsung Pay promotion which enabled me to earn an additional $10 after my first purchase and this adds up to the $25 that I received through the Samsung Pay promotion with my non-recalled Note7. Overall, I like the fact that Samsung is throwing money at us Note7 users in the United State but I can't say the same for Note7 users in other countries.

Note7 Alternatives?

On September 21st, I got my replacement device and I actually like it more than my original Note7. To be honest, this recall process has prompted me to rethink my choice about choosing the Galaxy Note7. I did have the option to exchange it with any other device in T-Mobile's lineup but really, there is no other phone that can come close to the experience that I have with the Galaxy Note7.

Sure, I have to admit that I was a little dissapointed with the sub-par battery life of the Galaxy Note7 when I am hearing that the iPhone 7 Plus gets amazing all day battery life. I was definitely tempted to get the iPhone 7 Plus but I resisted because Apple hasn't changed the design making the iPhone 7 Plus a bulky device to hold and coupled with the fact that the phone is placed on backorder made me choose the Galaxy Note7 once again.
Read more: Samsung Pay review, as good as it sounds
In addition to that, Samsung Pay also contributed quite a bit to my decision to stick with the Note7 because it is just so useful. I have been using it so frequently since I got the Note7 that I can't remember when was the last time I used the actual card. I could practically leave the card at home and just use Samsung Pay. Likewise, the places that I usually use my card at does not support Apple Pay, support might come up in the near future but as of right now, Apple Pay is really limited.
Other than the iPhone, Google's new Pixel phone is a worthy alternative. The hardware that Google designed is uniquely different and the exclusive software experience that Google is bundling with it's Pixel phones is definitely a big plus. But the problem with choosing the Pixel XL is that it is somehow not worth the $749 price tag.

For one, it is not water resistant by any stretch and just like the iPhone 7, the Pixel XL is also placed on back-order. And in case you were wondering why am I not considering the Galaxy S7 edge, well it is because the Galaxy S7 edge is an old phone already and it is still having a microUSB port. But bottom line, I am a tech savvy person and I won't settle for anything less.

To be honest, there is no alternative to the Galaxy Note7. Samsung's Note series has always been a phone that is uniquely different due to it's S Pen. And before you bring up the argument about the S Pen being an accessory only for show, I actually use the S Pen on the Note7 pretty frequently because writing on the screen is just so fluid and natural.

Conclusion

With the Note7, Samsung managed to break barriers by engineering a smartphone that looks and feels good in the hand. I won't lie, the Galaxy Note7 is such an amazing device to use but the damage has already been done and Samsung has reached the point of no return as the perception of the Note7 exploding can no longer be erased.

If they had properly addressed the issue with the battery during the first recall, then they would stand a chance to salvage the explosive battery mess. There really is no reason why anyone should use the Note7 here on out as it is like a ticking time bomb ready to explode. The trust that federal regulators have over the Note7 no longer exists since the replacement phones started exploding which will end up causing all sorts of inconveniences when using the Note7.

But personally, I think this Note7 battery explosion saga does not only affect people's perception of the Note7 but also affects Samsung's other flagship phones which look a lot like the Note7. There is a bit of a confusion here and there and Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge users might be wrongfully claimed as a Note7 user because the phones look very similar to the average joe.

One thing I really hate about this recall is the news that tech sites are stirring up. It was sure fun to see all these sites report all about the variety of explosion cases that have come up like a burning jeep or reports of people suffering third degree burns due to the Note7 explosion. Especially the pro-apple sites and Samsung haters in general are bashing Samsung a little too hard.

As a Note7 user myself, I felt offended by the negative comments. I am not trying to say that these negative comments are baseless arguments, it is just that they sound a little offensive to me. Additionally, in the wake of the Note7 explosions, more news about other phones exploding are also making the headlines every week.

My plan right now is return the Note7 regardless of whether Samsung manages to resolve the explosive battery issue or not. The damage has been done and I will be looking forward to next year's Galaxy Note smartphone.

Insider Talk

I don't know if I just have had bad luck or what but last year when I picked up the Surface Pro 4, I also had a hard time with the device. Initially it was a defect with the speakers and I eventually got Microsoft to replace that for me and then it was the long long wait for them to get the software working as expected. The sleep of death on the Surface Pro 4 was all too real. Then came the Galaxy Note7, this problem is getting out of hand.

This article has been changing a lot since I first envisioned the article. As this is a developing story, it's hard to stick to my initial idea which was to talk all about the free stuff that I got from the Note7 recall. Then it morphed into an article about the Note7 recall experience and finally I landed on the idea of talking about my experience with the Note7.

I will not be doing a review of the Note7 but I am considering doing a Note7 camera showcase because the photos I managed to get out of this camera is simply amazing.

---dw