Samsung Note7 users may get interim phones

Details of exchange programme will be available later this week

Over 2.5 million units of the Note7 have been sold worldwide.
Over 2.5 million units of the Note7 have been sold worldwide.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

They queued at shops to buy the smartphone when it was launched just over two weeks ago. Now they are back, asking for exchanges or refunds.

Singapore's Samsung Galaxy Note7 users have now been assured that details of an exchange programme are being worked out.

They have been seeking information about this in the wake of a global recall last Friday, after 35 cases were reported of the phone's battery exploding while charging.

Yesterday, the Korean company finally said that Note7 users here can borrow a replacement phone to tide them over the interim period. But details of an exchange programme here will be made available only later this week.

Over 2.5 million units of the Note7 have been sold worldwide.

In Singapore, market intelligence firm IDC reported that in the second quarter of this year, Samsung led the market with a 40 per cent market share compared to Apple's 33 per cent.

In America, an exchange programme was announced on the day of the recall. Customers there have two options: A one-for-one exchange for another Note7 device, or an exchange for the older Galaxy S7 or S7 edge, with a refund of the price difference between the two.

Telcos and Samsung stores in Singapore said customers have been enquiring about the exchange.

A spokesman for M1 said customers have asked about the replacement programme. A spokesman for StarHub said it had received inquiries from "a small number" of Note7 users.

An employee at the Samsung Experience Store at Nex mall, where the Note7 is still on display, told The Straits Times that last weekend, 20 to 30 customers a day had asked about the recall.

"They are worried and want to know if the phone is safe to use," he said. He advised customers with Note7 phones to use the device with caution, by monitoring its temperature when charging and not charging it overnight.

A Samsung Singapore spokesman said: "We don't know conclusively yet if Singapore sets are affected. We would like to assure customers that the likelihood of incidents is extremely low and there are no reported cases here to date."

However, some Note7 users are still being cautious. Marketing manager Jem Loh, 29, bought the Note7 when it was released and gave it to her mother.

She said: "When I found out about the recall, I sent a text message to my mum and told her to shut it down if it gets too warm."

Marketing manager Sharon Ng, 38, wants the option of a full refund. "I have always been a Note user, but the Note7 has been a disappointment. After I updated the firmware, the phone refused to start," she said.

While some customers welcomed Samsung's initiative in loaning out replacement phones, writer Charlene Koh, 25, will not be taking up the offer. "It is too troublesome to transfer the data back and forth, just for a few weeks," she said.

Analysts said that Samsung has to act quickly to mitigate the impact of the recall.

Mr Bryan Ma, vice-president of devices research at IDC, said: "They can't leave consumers in Singapore waiting for very long. In such a hyper-connected world that we live in today, consumers here can hardly go without their phones for a few hours, let alone days."

•For more information on the Samsung Galaxy Note7 and how to borrow a temporary phone, call 1800-7267864.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 06, 2016, with the headline 'Samsung Note7 users may get interim phones'. Subscribe