Samsung announced an unprecedented smartphone recall this morning for the Galaxy Note 7, confirming an issue with the device’s battery. The news really couldn’t come at a worse time for the South Korean company, which is coming off a string of smaller slip-ups and faces tough competition from Apple’s upcoming iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.
First, in case you missed it, here’s a quick recap of what’s happening with the Galaxy Note 7. Samsung is halting sales around the world and plans to replace every purchased smartphone within the next few weeks after confirming that small percentage of units feature a potentially dangerous faulty battery. The company is already working with carrier partners and says it should have more information on the massive recall soon.
The Galaxy Note 7 was almost universally praised in early reviews, including TechnoBuffalo’s, so the news comes as a pretty big shock. Before Samsung announced the recall a few reports of exploding units cropped up, but they were mostly attributed to faulty third-party chargers. Some people have also noted that the Galaxy Note 7 display seems to scratch particularly easily (it happened to one of our units), but that’s a minor complaint after today’s news.
Samsung also ran into issues with its Galaxy S7 Active earlier this year when it failed to live up to its IP68 water-resistant certification. The company blamed the issue on a problem with a factory production line focused exclusively on the rugged device and promised to replace any units damaged by water. It wasn’t a full-blown recall, but maybe it was a hint of things to come. Either way, it will be a challenge for Samsung to win back its credibility after this growing string of manufacturing slip-ups.
The company’s biggest problem may be the external threat posed by Apple. For the past few years, Samsung has strategically unveiled the latest Galaxy Note smartphone about a month ahead of each new iPhone, giving it a nice runway for sales before Apple swoops in. But this year the South Korean company has essentially squandered that lead by recalling the device, pushing potential customers right into Apple’s arms.
Samsung is expected to recover and continue to challenge Apple. The Galaxy-maker is too powerful to be ruined by one slip-up, even a big one like this, but the Galaxy Note 7 should have been a huge success for the company. Instead, it could be the disaster that holds the company back.