The week the Note 7 was released I paid off my Galaxy S6 and ordered a Note 7 in blue online through AT&T. Most of the phones I’ve owned have been iPhones, but I ended up switching to Samsung with the S5 in order to try something different. The S5 wasn’t a terrible phone, but it was plastic and didn’t feel very great. That’s why I was more excited for the S6, which felt closer to an iPhone than ever. However, eventually the S6 started to slow down and give me issues, and nothing I did could get it working smoothly again. It would freeze often when typing, and apps would crash all the time. I assume it had something to do with a software update, but once I saw the Note 7 I knew that it was time to get rid of the S6.
The day the Note 7 arrived I was blown away. It was the most premium feeling phone I’ve ever held. It had weight to it and felt great in the hand. The screen blew me away, and I loved using it to watch Netflix at the gym. I upgraded to the new Gear VR so that I could use the Note 7 with it, and it did a lot better than my S6 did. It wouldn’t get hot and temporarily stop working like the S6 always did.
When reports first started coming out about the Note 7 catching fire I thought that I would be fine. Sure it was alarming to hear, but the numbers were so low compared to the amount of phones sold that even after the recall was announced I had intended to hold on to my Note 7. It never got hot, no matter how much I used it, so I wasn’t that concerned. Ultimately, however, Samsung pushed out the update to change the battery color to identify “safe” phones, and announced that they intended to use another software update to stunt the battery on recalled Note 7’s so that customers would have little choice but to stop using them. At this point I decided to return to the AT&T store.
The exchange process for my first Note 7 was not a pleasant process. Initially when I took it in to temporarily swap it out for a S7 until they got replacement phones in stock the AT&T employee told me that I’d be better off keeping the Note 7 until the replacement phones came in because it’d be an easier process. Nevermind that phones were continuing to catch fire, he advised me that it would be fine. He told me to come back next week, and that’s what I did.
Once I was notified that replacement Note 7’s were available I went back to the store, waiting behind four other customers, and was eventually helped. However, it turned out that they didn’t have any blue Note 7’s in stock, and that’s the color I was in love with, so they had to call around and find me a store with the blue phone in stock. I then drove across town, and was finally ready to exchange my faulty Note 7. Would this process go smoothly? Not a chance. When they started the exchange they tried to tell me since I didn’t have the box and everything included with the phone they couldn’t exchange it for a new one! It’s not like I expected to be returning the phone when I bought it! I told them that I talked to customer support and they ensured me I could return the phone without the box, and besides it was a safety issue to keep the phone. He didn’t quite believe me, and went into the back to talk to a manager before coming out and continuing the exchange process.
Once the exchange was completed I spent the next few days restoring my phone, logging into all of my apps and accounts, and getting everything set back up how I wanted it. Less than two weeks later and the Note 7 is back in the news, this time with “safe” phones supposedly bursting into flame. Again, initially I planned to wait it out and see what would come, but with each passing day there was another report of an exploding replacement Note 7. At this point Ars Technica put out their article saying not to buy even a replacement Note 7, and advising everyone to return theirs. I called AT&T and was ensured that if I felt unsafe I could return my replacement Note 7, no questions asked.
The second exchange went smoother than the first, but was still painful. I had wanted to switch to an iPhone 7 Plus at this point, mostly out of frustration with Samsung, however no stores around had any in stock. I decided to settle with the S7 Edge as it was closest in screen size to the Note 7, but when I picked up the phone I was really put off by how cheap the S7E felt compared to the premium feel of the Note 7. Still, I had heard many good things about the S7 Edge, and used the price difference in the phone to justify upgraded my Gear S watch to the Gear S2. I really like the S2, especially since it feels less like a spaceship on my wrist and more like a watch.
As the week has gone on I’ve gotten a little more used to the S7 Edge, but I’m still sad that the Note 7 is gone for good. That phone felt so much better to hold, and even if the screen wasn’t that much larger I can definitely tell the difference with the S7E. At this point, I’m not sure what I’ll get for my next phone. I’ve never liked the design of other Android phones, and the Pixel hasn’t impressed me either. If Samsung can revitalize the Note series (probably under a different brand name) I’d be tempted to give it another try, but I don’t think I’d move on to an S8 or 9.
Have I lost faith in Samsung? Not entirely. I love the Gear S2 that I got last week, it feels like a premium product and performs great. We also got a Samsung 4K TV last month that I absolutely love, so I don’t think the Note 7 debacle has damaged their brand as much as the people making memes want to believe. Hopefully Samsung will thoroughly investigate what happened with the Note 7 and be as open with the public as possible during the coming months. As long as they don’t try to hide anything (and I’m aware of the text message suggesting they may have already tried), I think they’ll move on from the Note 7 disaster hurt, but not broken. I would hope they’ll use this experience to continue on more determined to ever and deliver a great series of phones next year.