Samsung’s exploding Galaxy Note 7 phones are officially back from the dead apparently with a new name and smaller battery.The phone took the world by storm last year for all the wrong reasons:
It had batteries that exploded that were then were replaced. Then replacements blew up, and then those phones were recalled, and then, finally, Samsung issued a global recall. The debacle launched a thousand internet memes and Halloween costumes but now, miraculously, the phones are back on sale in South Korea under a new name: the Galaxy Note FE (Fan Edition).
So just how safe are the Note FE phones, and who’s crazy enough to buy them?
As with all new gadgets, the folks over at iFixit got their hands on a Note FE and tore it apart to see what Samsung’s done to keep these phones from blowing up like the Note 7 did.Cracking the FE open, everything looks to be about the same, except for the battery. As previously reported, the phone has a smaller capacity 3,200 mAh battery compared to 3,500 mAh on the Note 7.
One of the leading reasons for why the Note 7’s batteries went up in flames was its capacity and dimensions. Simply put: The larger battery the largest in a Note ever didn’t fit properly inside the phone’s thin body. iFixit’s teardown of the Note FE reveals a battery that’s a hair thinner in all directions: 0.1mm thinner, 0.5mm narrower, and 0.6mm shorter. It might not seem like a large difference, but when the phone’s already designed to pack loads of hardware into a small space, every millimeter matters.
The Note FE’s batteries use brand new designs and Samsung puts them through the same strict 8-point battery check it uses with the Galaxy S8 and S8+’s batteries. So far there have been no reports of Galaxy S8 phones exploding since the phones launched in April, which is really great because it means Samsung has really gone the extra mile to make sure the batteries don’t explode even when punctured.I’ve no doubt the Note FE’s batteries are safer, but it seems kinda crazy anyone would want what is essentially a tainted phone, even if it’s sold at a roughly $200 discount.
I said it previously, and I’ll say it again: Samsung should just let the Note 7 stay dead. Seriously. With the Galaxy S8 launched, the Note 7’s issues in the rear-view mirror, and the Note 8 around the corner, the last thing you want to do is remind everyone about your worst product ever.But there’s also an argument for why the Note 7 is back on store shelves instead of buried in a landfill. Refurbishing the Note 7 is obviously good for the environment and reduces e-waste. Greenpeace made a huge stink about Samsung not committing to a recycling/refurbishing plan, and the Note FE should appease them.
It’s also good for Samsung from a business perspective since the company reportedly lost around $5.3 billion (more if you count the damage from the ripple effect it potentially had on Samsung’s other businesses) recalling up to 2.5 billion defective phones it shipped worldwide; the Note FE can recover some of the losses.It’s worth pointing out that Samsung is only selling the Note FE in South Korea there are only plans to sell 400,000 Note FE phones and there are no plans to sell them globally. And as we learned during a tour of Samsung’s battery testing facilities in Gumi, South Korea, most Note 7s have been repurposed as surveillance cameras…so it’s not like many salvageable Note 7s are just sitting around being wasted.
So who’s nuts enough to buy these Note FE devices? Most likely anyone who reluctantly gave up their Note 7 during the various recalls and was forced to either get different phone or a less feature-packed Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge.Last December I spoke to dozens of members in a secret Facebook group who refused to give up their Note 7s and actively worked to circumvent the carrier updates that would brick their devices and ultimately disable them from charging and connecting to mobile networks. Many of the members I spoke to said they’d consider buying a safer, refurbished Note 7.These are the diehard fans Samsung’s who would presumably buy the Galaxy Note Fan Edition. The ones who loved the Note 7 and lived dangerously, risking their lives just to use their favorite phone. It may be hard to believe, but just as there are serious Apple fans, there are tons of Samsung fans who will literally die for the company’s products.