Samsung Releasing Refurbished Note 7 Devices as ‘Fandom Edition’ in South Korea

About ten months after the first reported cases of Galaxy Note 7 fires began circulating online, Samsung is gearing up to re-launch the smartphone "initially" only in South Korea, according to people familiar with the company's plans (via The Wall Street Journal). Referred to as the Galaxy Note 7 FE, or "Fandom Edition," the launch is said to be coming on July 7 in the country, and it'll represent the third debut for Note 7 devices following the original launch last August, and a widespread recall and replacement later in 2016.

Even those replacement devices caught fire, but Samsung has chosen to continue the Note 7 brand with the new Fandom Edition and bring a "relatively modest" stock of inventory to retailers in South Korea. In total, it's believed 400,000 Note 7 Fandom Editions will debut among three major telecom companies in the country.


Samsung will bring the Fandom Edition to market "with different components," instead of the faulty battery components that caused the first launch and some replacement devices to catch fire. Any word on a wider launch for the Fandom Edition was not mentioned by the sources.
A refurbished version of the premium smartphone, whose global recall last year garnered unwanted attention for the South Korean technology giant after some caught fire, is coming to retailers’ shelves on July 7 with different components under the name Galaxy Note 7 FE, according to people familiar with the matter.

The refurbished Note 7 will be priced below 700,000 South Korean won ($616), although smartphone prices are generally adjusted up to the point of release due to fluctuating market conditions, the person said.
Samsung's intent to keep the Note brand alive was detailed in a report earlier this month, which also pointed towards the unveiling of the Galaxy Note 8 coming sometime in August. Since the Note 7 was discontinued, Samsung released the mid-cycle Galaxy S8 smartphone in April, with the company saying pre-orders for the device were its "best ever" and analysts suggesting that the S8's messaging and launch helped it to begin recovering from the Note 7 disaster.


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Samsung ‘Intent’ on Continuing Note Brand Despite Note 7 Fires, Will Reveal Galaxy Note 8 in August

Samsung is planning to introduce its newest smartphone, the Galaxy Note 8, sometime in the second half of August, according to people familiar with the company's plans (via Reuters). If accurate, the August announcement will come about four months after the launch of the Galaxy S8 and nearly one year since the first cases of exploding batteries in the Galaxy Note 7 were reported by users.

Although details are somewhat scarce, the Galaxy Note 8 is said to include a curved display that is "marginally larger" than the 6.2-inch display of the current Galaxy S8+, while also including two rear cameras. In comparison, last year's Note 7 had a 5.7-inch curved display with one camera on the back. Today's sources made no comment on the potential pricing for Samsung's new smartphone.

The Samsung Galaxy S8

Analysts said that Samsung is "intent" on continuing to use the Note brand, despite the Note 7 devices that caught fire on a worldwide scale last year and ultimately cost the company $5.4 billion.
Tech giant Samsung Electronics Co Ltd plans to hold a launch event in New York City for its next Galaxy Note smartphone in the second half of August, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters on Tuesday.

Samsung is intent on continuing the premium Note series despite the costly collapse of the Galaxy Note 7, which it was forced to scrap roughly two months from launch in October due to fire-prone batteries. The incident, one of the biggest product safety failures in tech history, cost the firm 6.1 trillion won ($5.4 billion) in operating profit and hurt its credibility.
Following the initial cases of exploding batteries in the Note 7, Samsung faced a tough few months in 2016, sending out a video apology to users, halting Note 7 sales worldwide, and encountering a ban of the smartphone from all U.S. flights. In January, the company concluded that a design flaw in the Note 7's battery and some welding defects were the main culprits behind the handsets that caught fire.

Now, Samsung runs an 8-point Battery Safety Check for its smartphones, beginning with the April launch of the Galaxy S8, and analysts believe that the company's messaging is helping it to recover quickly following the Note 7 drama. Samsung said that pre-orders were its "best ever" for the Galaxy S8 earlier this year, leading to what could be the company's highest profit period ever for April-June 2017.

When it launches, the Galaxy Note 8 will be another competitor for Apple in the premium smartphone space, with Apple's "iPhone 8" launch event expected to take place sometime in the traditional mid-September time frame. For the iterative iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus update last year, industry analysts said that the lack of "a compelling enough feature set" was not enough to convince some owners of potentially exploding Note 7 devices to switch from Samsung to Apple.


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Galaxy S8 Preorders Were Samsung’s ‘Best Ever’

Samsung's trouble with the Galaxy Note 7, which notably caused several fires due to battery troubles and led to a full recall, hasn't affected demand for its newly launched Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+.

According to a statement released this morning by Samsung (via VentureBeat), Samsung saw 30 percent year-over-year growth in preorders compared to the Galaxy S7. While Samsung did not give specific sales numbers, the company said it saw its "best ever" preorder period.

"We are delighted to see the response to the Galaxy S8 and S8+," remarked Samsung Electronics America president Tim Baxter. "The Galaxy S8 and S8+ are a result of that recommitment and the market has responded -- with a more than 30 percent year-over-year growth in pre-orders versus the record pre-orders we had with Galaxy S7, making it our best ever. The response is humbling, energizing and points to a great launch week. We aim to push the boundaries of what's possible in the name of a better, smarter, more exciting experience for our consumers."
The Galaxy S8 shares many features that could potentially be coming in Apple's 2017 OLED iPhone, including an edge-to-edge OLED display, iris scanning, a rear fingerprint scanner, facial recognition, IP68 water resistance, and camera improvements, though it does not feature a dual-lens setup as the iPhone 8 will.

Samsung's smartphone is, however, launching without one of its key features -- support for Bixby, Samsung's new virtual assistant built on Viv technology acquired from the original developers behind Siri. Bixby's English-language launch has been delayed due to performance issues, leaving one of the buttons on the Galaxy S8 non-functional.

Despite the missing functionality, the S8 and S8+ have received largely positive reviews. The AMOLED display is said to be "wonderfully vibrant and sharp," while the phone itself has been described as "slimmer and more attractive" than the iPhone 7 Plus but with a bigger screen.

Camera reviews suggest the low-light camera performance of the S8 beats the performance of the iPhone 7 Plus, but that's comparing a new device to a previous-generation device. Rumors suggest a major camera overhaul is coming with the iPhone 8, which appears to feature a dual-lens vertical camera that could result in both better images and augmented reality functionality.

Apple's iPhone 8 won't be coming until September, and even then, rumors suggest the higher-end OLED model could be constrained until late 2017 or early 2018.

Samsung's Galaxy S8 and S8+ went on sale on April 21 in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. The 5.8-inch Galaxy S8 starts at $750, while the larger 6.2-inch Galaxy S8+ starts at $850.


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Samsung Reclaims Title of World’s Largest Smartphone Maker As It Recovers From Galaxy Note7

Samsung topped Apple as the world's largest smartphone maker in the first quarter, as it continues to show signs of recovery following its disastrous Galaxy Note7 recall last year, according to Taiwanese research firm TrendForce.


Samsung reclaimed the number one spot with an estimated 26.1 percent market share, trailed by Apple at an estimated 16.9 percent, said TrendForce. Chinese vendor Huawei, which aims to become the world's largest smartphone maker within four years, finished third with an estimated 11.4 percent market share.


Samsung is traditionally the world's largest smartphone maker, as it sells millions of inexpensive smartphones alongside its flagship devices, so this would normally be no surprise. However, after Samsung recalled the Galaxy Note7 due to defective batteries, Apple overtook its South Korean rival in the fourth quarter.

While the worst might be over for Samsung now, TrendForce said the company's sales results for its high-end smartphones still "fell short of expectations" in the first quarter, as consumer confidence in the brand had "yet to fully recover" from Galaxy Note7 recall and subsequent discontinuation in the fall.

Nevertheless, Samsung's continued success in the mid-range and low-end segments of the market allowed it to reclaim its crown.
The economically priced, high-performing Galaxy J series sustained Samsung’s shipments and contributed significantly to the expansion of the brand’s overall smartphone production volume. Samsung was the only brand that saw positive growth in production volume during the off season of the first quarter.
Samsung's focus has now shifted towards the Galaxy S8, set to launch later this month. The smartphone features an edge-to-edge 5.8-inch display with no physical home button, foreshadowing the rumored design of the tentatively named iPhone 8. And it shouldn't catch on fire like the Galaxy Note7, as Samsung now performs an 8-point battery check on all of its smartphones.

It's important to recognize that these are estimated figures only, and that shipments do not necessarily reflect sales to customers.

Apple will officially report its iPhone sales figures for the first quarter, corresponding with the second quarter of its 2017 fiscal year, on May 2.


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Samsung to Sell Refurbished Note7 Phones ‘to Minimize Environmental Impact’ of Recall

Samsung announced on Monday that it will sell refurbished versions of its Galaxy Note7 smartphones, the model it officially discontinued last year because of fire-prone batteries.

Samsung's Note 7 devices were permanently scrapped in October and recalled globally, after multiple reports of some phones self-combusting. A highly publicized in-depth investigation by the company discovered that batteries supplied by two different companies were to blame. No other faults were discovered in the components or parts.

The news surprised some analysts, coming just days before Samsung officially announces its Galaxy S8, which is generally regarded as the firm's comeback mobile device and "iPhone 8" rival. Samsung said the refurbished Note7 phones will be equipped with new batteries that have gone through new safety checks.

"Regarding the Galaxy Note 7 devices as refurbished phones or rental phones, applicability is dependent upon consultations with regulatory authorities and carriers as well as due consideration of local demand," Samsung said in a statement. "The product details including the name, technical specification and price range will be announced when the device is available. Samsung will not be offering refurbished Galaxy Note 7 devices for rent or sale in the US."
The move should allow Samsung to recoup some of the $2.3 billion in losses it suffered because of the ill-fated phone, but the company told The Verge that the main objective of introducing the refurbished devices was "solely to reduce and minimize any environmental impact".

Last month, Greenpeace protestors interrupted the company's Mobile World Congress keynote and demanded to know what the company's plans were for its 4.3 million recalled devices, so it's possible Samsung's latest announcement is timed to avoid a repeat incident overshadowing its S8 launch on Wednesday. "Samsung's announcement is the first step to show its effort to set a new path for recycling smartphones starting with Note 7s," Greenpeace wrote in a blog post.

Samsung told Reuters the company has not set specifics on refurbished sales plans, including which markets they will be sold in and when they will go on sale. However, it noted that the phones will not be sold in India, as some media mistakenly reported earlier this year.


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Samsung Reveals Extent of Note7 Battery Fire Investigation

Samsung held a press conference on Monday in which it revealed the results of its internal investigation into why some of its Galaxy Note7 handsets set on fire. Last week, leaked reports confirmed the battery was to blame, but Samsung took pains today to explain the thoroughness of its investigation, which involved over 700 engineers and data gathered from testing 200,000 phones and 30,000 Note7 batteries.

In addition to enlisting the help of two independent testing labs, the Korean company built a large-scale test facility to automate different charging and discharging scenarios, which was able to replicate the failures of consumer handsets. Absolutely everything was examined, said Samsung, from hardware and software design, to manufacturing and logistics.

galaxy_note7-samsung_test_facility
Samsung's Note7 test facility.

Samsung said that two separate flaws were to blame for some batteries setting on fire in both original and replacement phones. The original Note7 battery had a design flaw in the top-right corner that was liable to short-circuit, while the batteries in replacement units were prone to combustion because of a welding defect. Some handsets were also missing insulation tape. For those interested, the company also released an infographic explaining the findings in more detail.

Going forward, Samsung said it was introducing an 8-point Battery Safety Check that includes additional inspection and testing. The firm also said it was improving training for all battery handlers across its assembly and shipping chains. In addition, it explained that more space would be allowed around the batteries in its handsets to protect them from impact-related failures, and said it would take steps to improve its battery diagnostic and controller software.
“I [hope] this serves as an opportunity to improve safety of lithium-ion not only for Samsung but for the entire industry,” Samsung mobile head DJ Koh told Recode, adding that Samsung takes responsibility for all components of the phone, including batteries made by other Samsung subsidiaries and those bought from outside companies.
Samsung confirmed that the changes would arrive in the forthcoming Galaxy S8, but told reporters not to expect its mid-cycle phone to make its usual appearance at the Mobile World Congress, held annually in February. No timeframe was given for the launch of the S8, suggesting Samsung is being careful not to put itself under undue pressure for its comeback after last year's Note7 debacle, which was said to be a result of the company trying to beat Apple's iPhone 7 to market.


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Samsung’s Official Note7 Investigation Concludes Battery Was the Cause of Fires

Samsung's investigation into what caused some Galaxy Note7 smartphones to catch fire has concluded that the battery was the main reason, according to sources who spoke to Reuters on Monday.

Rumors had suggested Samsung pushed suppliers to meet tighter deadlines for an earlier launch in order to beat the iPhone 7, leading to critical oversights that led to some batteries catching fire. A person familiar with the matter told the news outlet today that Samsung was able to replicate the fires during its investigation and that the cause could not be explained by hardware design or software-related matters.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7
The source said that the official results of the investigation will be announced on January 23, one day before the company announces its Q4 earnings. Samsung is also expected to announce new measures it is taking to prevent similar problems in future devices, the person said. Samsung declined to comment.

Samsung issued a Galaxy Note7 recall in September, and permanently discontinued the smartphone in October after some replacement devices also caught fire. Samsung urged customers to return their Note7's at once, and in December began seeding a software update to prevent unreturned devices from charging. The phone remains banned on all U.S. flights as a precaution.

galaxy s8 concept
Concept for the Galaxy S8 (Image: Steel Drake/Behance)

Following the debacle – said to have cost the company $5.2 billion – Samsung must now regain consumer trust, starting with the launch of its flagship Galaxy S8 in the Spring. The phone is rumored to include a 4K Super AMOLED edge-to-edge display, a home button embedded in the display, and a digital AI assistant called "Bixby".


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U.S. Aviation Authority Lifts Note7 Ban as Samsung Prepares to Relaunch Galaxy Brand

U.S. airlines will no longer have to make a pre-boarding notification to passengers that the Samsung Galaxy Note7 is prohibited on aircraft, it was announced yesterday.

In a statement on its website, the Federal Aviation Administration said it was dropping the requirement because public awareness that the banned Note7 was a fire risk was deemed to have reached a sufficient level, thanks in part to extensive recall efforts by Samsung and smartphone providers.

galaxy-note7
The Department of Transportation removed the requirement for air carriers to specifically notify passengers about the Note7 phone immediately prior to boarding due to the high degree of public awareness of the ban since issuance of the emergency restriction/prohibition order, as well as the extensive efforts by Samsung and U.S. wireless providers to make all Note7 users aware the phone is recalled and banned from transport on U.S. aircraft. 
Following the announcement, Samsung released a statement claiming that over 96 percent of Note 7 devices have been returned so far. U.S. carriers have sent out an end-of life software update to handsets that remain in circulation, rendering the devices unable to charge. Meanwhile, Samsung has said it will release a report later this month detailing the results of its investigation into what caused some handsets to explode or catch fire while charging.

Samsung appears to have weathered the storm of last year's Note7 debacle, after officially halting sales of the phone worldwide in early October and discontinuing the model. Despite Apple phones outselling Samsung phones two to one over the holiday period, iPhone 7's lack of 'compelling' features are said to have convinced most Galaxy Note7 owners to stay with Samsung.

galaxy-s8
Purported leaked image of the Galaxy S8 expected to launch in April (Image: Weibo)

According to one report on Tuesday, Samsung has refused to give up on the Galaxy Note name, due to the historical popularity of the brand in the 'phablet' category, and a Note8 is currently being readied for launch later this year.

Samsung is currently focusing on the Spring launch of its flagship Galaxy S8, which is rumored to include a 'Bixi' AI voice assistant – based on its acquisition of Viv – and is said to have a home button embedded in its edge-to-edge display. The company is reportedly aiming to ship 60 million S8 units by the end of the year.


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Samsung to Reveal Results of Galaxy Note7 Fire Investigation Later This Month

Samsung will announce later this month the results of an investigation into what caused some of its Galaxy Note7 smartphones to catch fire, according to South Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo.

Samsung launched the Galaxy Note7 in late August and, shortly after, user reports began circulating about devices that exploded or caught on fire while charging. At the time, the company said the underlying issue was "problematic" batteries installed in a very limited number of the smartphones sold.


Rumors suggest Samsung pushed suppliers to meet tighter deadlines for an earlier launch, in order to beat the iPhone 7, leading to critical oversights that led to some batteries catching fire. In October, Samsung said it was examining all aspects of the smartphone, but noted it was not yet able to reproduce the problem.

Samsung issued a Galaxy Note7 recall in September, and permanently discontinued the smartphone in October after some replacement devices caught fire. Samsung has urged customers to return their Galaxy Note7s immediately, and in December began seeding a software update to prevent unreturned devices from charging.

Samsung faces the challenging task of regaining consumer trust after the Galaxy Note7 safety risks, which led to the smartphone being banned on all U.S. flights. Airlines are required to disclose the Galaxy Note7 ban prior to takeoff on every U.S. flight, inevitably damaging the reputation of Samsung's brand.

galaxy-a-2017
Looking forward, the company today announced a trio of new mid-tier Galaxy A smartphones, including the 5.7-inch A7, 5.2-inch A5, and 4.7-inch A3 models. The latest A models feature metal frames and 3D glass backs, improved 16-megapixel cameras, IP68 water and dust resistance, and longer battery life.

Samsung said the refreshed Galaxy A series will be available in Russia in early January, followed by other global markets. Pricing has yet to be announced.


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iPhone 7’s Lack of ‘Compelling’ Features Convinced Most Galaxy Note7 Owners to Stay With Samsung

In a recent piece by The Wall Street Journal, hardware analyst Stephen Baker commented on the state of holiday sales figures for both Apple and Samsung. While many believed Apple would have it easy this season due to Samsung's Galaxy Note7 crisis, Baker said that "Apple's own lack of a wowing product this year" meant that woeful Note7 owners opted for other high-end Galaxy phones, and not the iPhone 7.
“Most of those who bought or wanted to buy a Note 7 opted for a different high-end Galaxy phone,” Mr. Baker said. “Samsung was able to fend off other Android competition, and Apple, too, thanks to Apple’s own lack of a wowing product this year.”
Apple decided to not release the first weekend sales numbers for the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus back in September, because it felt the results were "no longer a representative metric" due to demand outweighing supply. Samsung officially halted sales of the Galaxy Note7 worldwide in early October, but another industry analyst, Chetan Sharma, continued Baker's thread by commenting on the iPhone 7's lack of "a compelling enough feature set," which wasn't enough to convince owners of potentially exploding Note7 devices to switch ecosystems.

iphone-7-plus-colors
“Apple has the strongest ecosystem, with its hardware, software and app and content stores,” said consumer tech and mobile industry consultant Chetan Sharma. “IPhone users looking for an upgrade stick with Apple. But in a year when Samsung dropped the ball in a huge way,” he said, Apple “didn’t have a phone with a compelling enough feature set to lure Samsung owners away.”
Earlier this week, Yahoo-owned mobile analytics firm Flurry released data surrounding the top device activations by manufacturer between 12/19 and 12/25, confirming that Apple was again at the top of the list with 44 percent activations, while Samsung came in second at 21 percent. In comparison to the previous year, Apple dropped from 49 percent and Samsung climbed slightly from 19 percent.

Ultimately, the two analysts admitted that both Apple and Samsung "made mistakes this year that cost them growth." Sharma said that "the timing couldn’t have been worse for Samsung and it couldn’t have been better for Apple. But the truth is neither company capitalized this year.”

In the first few days of December, financial firm Oppenheimer summed up the current negative cloud surrounding Apple -- fueled by mixed-to-negative consumer reception and its first revenue decline since 2003 -- and stated that the company could be heading into a "decade-long malaise" if it doesn't turn things around.

Related Roundup: iPhone 7
Tags: Samsung, Galaxy Note 7

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