Things couldn’t be any better for the Korean electronics giant after its last flagship phone, the Galaxy Note 7, burst into flames last year and threatened to ruin the entire company.
And yet, Samsung refuses to let the tainted Note 7 stay dead — a decision that could end up ruining all of the good fortune it’s rebuilt.
A new report from Korea’s ET News published Wednesday says Samsung will begin selling recycled Note 7’s in South Korea starting in June.
The recycled/refurbished/reworked “Galaxy Note 7 R” as it’ll reportedly be called, will look identical to the original Note 7 and have the same functions. The only change to the Note 7 R will be its battery capacity: 3,200 mAh instead of the original 3,500 mAh.
This aligns with what Samsung said in March: “The objective of introducing refurbished devices is solely to reduce and minimize any environmental impact,” a Samsung spokesperson told Mashable.
I can sympathize with selling recycled phones; I’m all for reducing as much e-waste as possible as the next person. And I’m sure Greenpeace’s protest at Samsung’s Mobile World Congress press conference in February pushed Samsung to consider recycling as many Note 7’s as it could instead of just dumping them all into a landfill somewhere, but actually selling recycled Note 7’s is a terrible idea. Here’s why.
Actually selling recycled Note 7’s is a terrible idea.
The No. 1 thing Samsung needed to do following the Note 7’s two global recalls, its discontinuation, and a public conference detailing what went wrong, was to change the conversation.
Shift the chatter from the stained phone brand and faulty batteries that were too big to fit in the chassis to how amazingly sexy and powerful the Galaxy S8 is.
And Samsung did just that — successfully, too. It took nearly six months, but everyone is now talking about the Galaxy S8 instead of the Note 7’s flaws.
So why the hell is Samsung digging up a product that it already officially declared dead, that became the butt of internet jokes (Note 7’s as hand grenades in Grand Theft Auto anyone?), and it so desperately tried to get people to forget?
The conversation’s moved on to something positive for the company. Bringing up the Note 7 (in any capacity) only reminds people the Note 7 isn’t truly dead. It’s bad air.
Sure, the e-waste thing is a problem, but is selling 300,000 Note 7 R’s with smaller batteries that presumably fit better in the device’s body actually worth any potential complications?
I don’t think so. The Note 7 was a great phone… until it started exploding. And got banned from airplanes. And got recalled — twice. And then was discontinued. And then Samsung and carriers issued software updates to brick the last holdouts.
Look, I’m sure Samsung’s thoroughly testing the Note 7 R’s before selling them, and I hope the batteries are going through the same 8-point battery safety check as the Galaxy S8, but if even a single one of the Note 7 R’s catch fire or explode (it doesn’t matter what the cause is), Samsung will be screwed all over again. Who the heck would trust a Samsung phone ever again if more phones exploded and they are none other than Note 7s?
Worse, it’s not like the Note 7 R will even be sold at huge discount. If ETNews is right, the phone will still cost about $620. It’s about $260 less than the original Note 7’s price, but anything less than 50% off is ridiculous. Six hundred bucks is still pretty damn expensive for a phone that’s not the new flagship and has a tainted history.
Aside from the truly diehard Note 7 fans (and I mean the most devoted), who have no fear of using the phone, nobody should risk their life (or those around them) with the Note 7 R.
You could also say, well, Samsung’s not selling the Note 7 R in the U.S. — only in South Korea and maybe a few other regions. You could also argue that the company seems to think the phones are safe enough to be used to watch over its 8-point battery safety check in its factories, but that’s missing still the point. The Note 7 (in all of its incarnations) — in any sane person’s eyes — was and is an unsafe and ruined phone. It will never shake that stigma off.