Last week, we covered Samsung’s official recall declaration for its Galaxy Note 7 device and noted that the company needed to get out in front of this problem immediately, before people were injured or killed by its defective hardware. On Saturday evening, a six-year-old child in Brooklyn NY was injured when the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 he was using caught fire in his hands while he watched a video.
The boy has been treated and released, implying that the injuries were relatively minor, but the incident underscores the problem Samsung faces. The company’s stock has fallen by roughly 7% since markets opened today, knocking $26 billion off its market valuation and killing a rally that had persisted through most of 2016.
Meanwhile, there were rumors this morning Samsung may take an unprecedented step and brick all new Note 7’s to prevent them from being activated, though Samsung has already quashed them.
Regardless, the various carriers and Samsung itself are all treating the situation seriously and with a united front. If you own a Galaxy Note 7, don’t tempt fate — swap the device out for either a different product or a new Note 7 when that hardware is available. If you own a Note 7 and cannot exchange it immediately, Samsung recommends switching to a different phone, turning the Note 7 off, and not charging it.
There’s no updated word, as of this writing, about how widespread the problem is. Last week, Samsung stated that it thought just 24 phones out of 2.5 million, or an estimated 0.1% of devices were affected. The problem with this measurement is that it may just be the devices that have failed in the handful of weeks since the problem was discovered. The other risk to Samsung is that the company could have been found criminally negligent if it faced a lawsuit and a jury heard evidence that the company knew about the risk and did nothing. A cell phone fire can lead to substantial destruction of property and injury. While we’re not aware of anyone dying as a result of a cell phone fire, it’s by no means impossible.
The bottom line is this: While the majority of Galaxy Note 7s are almost certainly completely safe, it’s not worth taking the risk on the device. Verizon and AT&T have stated that customers will receive a new device of their choice or a new Galaxy Note 7 when the new hardware is available, and Samsung is offering either $25 worth of in-store credit or a $25 bill credit depending on which the customer wants. Having to recall its popular flagship just as the iPhone 7 launched was a blow to the company’s fortunes, but we applaud Samsung for taking this seriously.