Some Samsung fans want to keep Galaxy Note 7 smartphones despite global recall, plane ban

A Samsung Galaxy Note7 being held at the IFA trade fair in Berlin. PHOTO: EPA

SAN FRANCISCO/SEOUL (Reuters) - San Francisco Bay Area risk consultant Gil Oliva is willing to risk that his Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphone might catch fire, shrugging off a global recall and aviation bans that have damaged the South Korean manufacturer's reputation and raised questions about its future.

The stylish Note 7, which boasts a curved screen, an iris scanner and a pen accessory, was well-regarded until some began catching fire. Mr Oliva likened it to Ferrari sports cars, which also were recalled over fire issues in 2010. "I've got the Ferrari. And yes, Ferraris catch on fire sometimes," said Mr Oliva, 32, of Oakland, California.

The 5.7-inch Note 7 had been expected to accelerate Samsung Electronics Co's mobile-sales momentum. Then, Samsung announced a global recall of 2.5 million Note 7s in early September.

The company said this week it would permanently stop production and sales. It urged users to power down and offered to exchange devices for other models globally.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphone devices will also be banned from aircraft in the United States starting Saturday (Oct 15) under an emergency order, regulators said on Friday after numerous reports of the devices catching fire.

The order from the US Transportation Department and other agencies bars owners from carrying on the devices or stowing them in checked baggage during flights.

As the company works to contain damage and stop the recall from tainting the entire brand, some fans say they are not worried.

The large-screen, US$882 phone employs a similar design to Samsung's flagship Galaxy S7, the best-selling Android phone in the first half of 2016. Samsung had hoped the Note 7 would enjoy a similar appeal.

Wall Street expects iPhone maker Apple Inc to benefit from Samsung's recall, along with makers of other phones running Android.

Still, Verizon Communications Inc spokesman Kelly Crummey said many Note 7 customers are exchanging the recalled devices for other Samsung phones.

Mr Josh Dickey, entertainment editor at technology news site Mashable, said in an op-ed on Wednesday he would keep his phone, calculating a human was twice as likely to be struck by lightning as a Note 7 was to catch fire. Fewer than 100 burning phones have been reported.

Many other customers around the world had the same reaction. "The problem is there is no other phone that I like," said Mr Jo Hyang Won, a 32-year-old office worker in South Korea.

Samsung expects the Note 7 failure to dent profits by about US$5.3 billion. It blamed faulty batteries for the original problem but has not guessed at what caused replacement phones to overheat.

Mr Sidrah Ahmad in Singapore said safety considerations mean eventually giving up the Note 7: "I am trying to ignore the voices in my head saying I should stop. But I think I'll have to stop soon."

The 34-year-old public servant described "constantly being conscious whether the device is getting too warm... it's getting in the way of the positive experience of the phone".

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