As Samsung Electronics Co struggles to limit the damage from the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco, it is finding slivers of support from faithful users of the glitzy smartphone who are reluctant to give it up and switch to an alternative.
The premium $882 device that was meant to compete with Apple Inc’s latest iPhones at the top end of the smartphone market was scrapped on Tuesday, less than two months after its launch, due to safety fears following reports of fires caused by overheating.
“I don’t think I am going to go with Note 7 forever. But the problem is there is no other phone that I like,” said Jo Hyang-won, a 32-year-old office worker in South Korea.
Jo said there are other users she is aware of who also say they wish Samsung would find the cause of the problem and fix the phone.
After announcing a global recall of 2.5 million Note 7s in early September, Samsung said this week it is permanently stopping their production and sales. It has urged users to power down the device and has offered to exchange it for other models globally.
A member of an online forum which has more than 3,000 people signed up to discuss Note 7 in South Korea wrote: “I don’t want to use other phones.”
Boasting distinct features such as curved screen, an iris scanner, and a pen accessory, the 5.7-inch phone was widely expected to accelerate Samsung’s mobile-sales momentum that had helped it post surging profits earlier this year.
The large-screen phone employs a similar design to Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S7, which was the best-selling Android phone in the first half of this year, and Samsung had hoped the Note 7 would enjoy a similar appeal.
But Samsung now expects to take a hit to profits of around $5.3 billion from the Note 7 failure. It blamed faulty batteries for the original problem but has given no inkling about the cause of overheating in the replacement phones.
The batteries, ironically, were what endeared the phone to some users.
“It’s a beautiful phone. I like the whole interface. It’s very smooth and very fast,” said Kenneth Wayne Wong, a tennis coach in Singapore, who purchased two Note 7s – one for himself and one for his son.
“The battery lasts very long. I charge and unplug it every morning around 5:30 and it can last me all the way to night… and I still have 30 percent balance.”
Yet, for some like Sidrah Ahmad in Singapore, safety considerations mean eventually giving up the Note 7.
“I am trying to ignore the voices in my head saying I should stop. But I think I’ll have to stop soon,” said the 34-year-old public servant.
“Why? (I’m) constantly being conscious whether the device is getting too warm… it’s getting in the way of the positive experience of the phone.”