Galaxy Note7

In the spotlight - for all the wrong reasons

Customers checking out the Galaxy Note7. Samsung recalled the phone after several handsets caught fire during charging.
Customers checking out the Galaxy Note7. Samsung recalled the phone after several handsets caught fire during charging.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

The Galaxy Note7 took aim at Apple's iPhone, but Samsung ended up shooting itself in the foot.

When it was unveiled to great fanfare in August, queues formed outside Samsung outlets before the stores opened.

Reviewers around the world praised its features and its design.

For instance, tech website CNet said in August that the Note7 was one of the year's best phones.

Even The Straits Times said back then it was "undoubtedly the best phablet that money can buy now".

How long ago that seems.

Four months - and some exploding phones - later, the half-year that started so well for Samsung took a disastrous turn.

Now, the company expects a loss of 3.5 trillion won (S$4.2 billion) across the fourth quarter this year and the first quarter next year.

In Singapore, more than 98 per cent of all Galaxy Note7 owners have participated in the company's exchange/refund programme. Furthermore, a software update was sent to all Note7s three days ago that restricted their battery charge to zero, disabling them completely.

Yet, for all the bad publicity, Samsung is still a giant in the mobile phone industry, and one its customers are fiercely loyal to.

In a survey conducted more than a month after the exploding phone fiasco, 91 per cent of all current Samsung users in the United States said that they would likely buy another Samsung phone.

The Galaxy Note8 is due to be released next year, according to a Korean press release by the firm.

And all eyes are on that launch to see if 2017 ends with a bang - the type Samsung hopes for.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 31, 2016, with the headline 'In the spotlight - for all the wrong reasons'. Print Edition | Subscribe