Why 90% of customers still want their Note7

Digital stylus, large display, strong Samsung brand all cited as reasons customers are replacing their Note7 devices post-recall

Samsung reported that 90% of Note7 owners in the U.S. have opted to receive a new Galaxy Note7 as part of the ongoing recall for a potential fire hazard related to batteries in the original phones.

Skeptics said that 90% replacement number seems high, considering the original phones could overheat and catch fire.

But apparently many customers want the Note7's digital S Pen stylus to touch and write on its 5.7-in. high-resolution display, among other high-end features, badly enough to continue use it -- at least when it is safe, as Samsung has asserted the new units will be.

Still, what happened to the age-old adage of "once burned, twice shy?" Why are these Note7 customers so faithful? And what has happened to the other 10%?

"The 90% number just doesn't seem right, but it could be," said Jeff Kagan, an independent analyst who was highly critical of Samsung when the battery problems were first reported. "Samsung has a strong brand, but even the very strongest brand can be broken."

The facts: As of Thursday night, Samsung reported around half of all recalled Note7 phones sold in the U.S. had been exchanged through the recall. The replacements became widely available on Wednesday and, since that time, some 90% of older Note7 owners opted for a new Note7, a Samsung spokesperson said via email.

Samsung didn't provide the exact number of new Note7s swapped out, although it could be in the range of 450,000 devices. That number is based on the official recall of a million Note7s by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission on Sept. 15.

Still, Samsung had said on Tuesday that 500,000 Note7 replacement devices had been shipped to U.S. retailers and carriers for exchanges starting on Wednesday. It seems unlikely that all 500,000 -- or even 450,000 -- Note7s would have been exchanged only a day later, by Thursday, at thousands of retail outlets, so the number of new Note7s handed out could be substantially less than 450,000.

That's possibly because not all 1 million that the CPSC said were recalled needed to be replaced. On the other hand, 130,000 Note7s had already been exchanged in the U.S. by Sept. 16, Samsung said four days later, which indicates there really might be 450,000 people on U.S. streets carrying a new Note7 that Samsung has deemed safe.

Some analysts said it is entirely possible that 90% of Note7 customers would opt to get a new Note7, partly because relatively few people were affected by Note7s that overheated or caught fire when compared to the total numbers sold. In the U.S., the CPSC said that it received 92 reports in the U.S. of batteries overheating, including 26 reports of burns and 55 reports of property damage, including fires in cars and a garage.

In other words, many users simply just hadn't been directly affected by the fire hazard in the first place, at least enough to damage their image of the advantages of using a Note7.

The 90% who have exchanged is "not a surprise," said Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates. "What I wonder about is not the 90% replaced, but what happened to the other 10%? Are they ignoring the recall? Are they mad at Samsung and just not willing to give them a chance to make things right and have already gone to another device?"

Gold theorized that the 90% replacement number would be lower if the functionality of the Note7 itself was defective instead of just the battery -- in other words, if it crashed all the time, lost data or wouldn't load apps. "Yes, the battery being defective could be dangerous, but overall I think most customers liked the form factor and functionality of the device and see the defective battery as a peripheral issue not directly associated with the functioning of the device," Gold said.

"We are pretty accustomed to having to replace batteries in all manner of devices and things we buy," Gold added. "I think that mindset is in play here. The device works fine once the battery is replaced and psychologically that's fine with us."

In addition to an exchange for a new Note7, Samsung had all along said customers could get a Galaxy S7 or Galaxy S7 Edge as a replacement. The CPSC also said customers could demand a full refund. Customers who exchanged the Note7 were eligible for a $25 credit as well, according to the Samsung recall website.

Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, said the 90% replacement number is because the "Note7 is a great phone and Samsung has a very good brand." In addition to the S Pen with off-screen note-taking ability and its Super AMOLED display, he mentioned Note7's mobile wallet capability, water resistance, ultra power savings mode and more.

"Consider also that consumers always had the option to buy an iPhone and these consumers opted not to," he concluded.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags samsung

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Matt Hamblen

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?