Samsung once again plans to sell the Galaxy Note 7, the phone that made headlines last year over safety concerns surrounding exploding batteries. The Korean news organization Hankyung has reported that Samsung plans to replace the batteries of existing Note 7 devices with smaller ones and sell them in Indian and Vietnamese markets. These devices are unlikely to be sold in US or European markets, however, as regulators have introduced bans of the device, even going so far as to disallow their presence on airplanes in the United States.
In response to reports about the batteries in some devices detonating, Samsung issued a mandatory recall of all Note 7 smartphones and stopped selling the device worldwide. Additionally, the company announced in December that they would remotely disable the software of all affected devices, forcing users to either return the phone or be stuck with a non-operational device. According to Samsung, over 96 percent of all Galaxy Note 7 devices have been returned. Samsung offers a full refund for all returned Note 7s, costing the company millions of dollars, in addition to damaging consumer trust in the Samsung Galaxy brand.
Hankyung’s report claimed that Samsung plans to replace the Note 7’s battery with either a 3000 mAh or 3200 mAh battery as well as replace the phone’s case. According to the report, Samsung plans to relaunch the phone in some markets as early as June.
As a result, it makes sense that Samsung would want to recuperate some of the losses suffered as a consequence of the debacle. According to Hankyung, the company is in possession of roughly 2.5 million Note 7 devices, which they are currently unable to sell anywhere. Although the company used around 20,000 of the devices in testing to determine the cause of the battery issue, they remain in possession of a tremendous number of devices. Additionally, the company is incentivized against simply destroying the devices, as Korea’s environment ministry has said that, if Samsung does not dispose of the devices properly, they would impose a fine, according to ZDnet.
Samsung asserts that, although it is dangerous to continue to use the Note 7 in its current form, the safety issue concerns the phone’s battery only, and other parts of the device pose no safety threat. If consumers believe that Samsung is correct in this argument, replacing the phone’s 3500 mAh battery with a smaller, redesigned battery should alleviate concern. Offering the device for a lower price, in conjunction with a re-branding effort, should afford Samsung success in their resale efforts.
Reselling the device with a smaller battery isn’t Samsung’s only option. Instead, or even in addition to reselling the phone, the company could opt to salvage parts from recalled devices for use in newer phones. When the device was released last year, it featured high-end specifications, including a Quad HD resolution 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display, 4 GB of LPDDR4 RAM, a 12-megapixel camera, and a quad-core 64-bit Snapdragon 820 processor. Even a year later, these specifications remain impressive and competitive, so it’s possible that some of these components could make a resurgence in future iterations of the Galaxy Note line of smartphones or other Samsung devices.
Due to the sheer number of devices in Samsung’s possession, it’s unlikely that they would be able to divest themselves of the entirety of their stock, as they are limited to selling the phone only in countries that have not already banned the phone. Because Samsung is prohibited from simply destroying their collection of smartphones, they are obligated to develop some plan for getting rid of it. Even if Samsung is successful in reselling most or all of their Note 7 smartphones, they will still have the problem of having millions of faulty batteries, which they will need to recycle in some way.
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