As part of Samsung's worldwide recall affecting over a million Galaxy Note7 smartphones, every owner of a Note7 in Australia — even if they bought the phone overseas or online — will be contacted proactively to arrange their choice of a replacement phone, a full refund, or an expert repair. No battery fire incidents have been reported in Australia, but the company is taking unprecedented steps to address any potential issue to keep customers happy.
Despite over a million Galaxy Note7s being sold since the phone's launch a fortnight ago, the company said that the 35 reported incidents — with none in Australia, but 17 in South Korea, 17 in the US and one in Taiwan — were enough to prompt it to take the action it has. The battery failure rate has been just 0.0024 per cent across all phones sold.
The issue affects the Note7's battery, with an unintended meeting of the battery cells' anode and cathode in some cases leading to the fires. The issue is isolated only to the new, lithium-ion 3500mAh battery used in the Note7, which is a unique design that has not been used in any other Samsung smartphone. The Note7 is Samsung's most successful Note series smartphone, outselling the previous title-holder the Note5 by around double in the two weeks since its launch.
Samsung's Australian arm is going out on the front foot to offer a choice of refunds, repairs and replacements wherever requested. Any Australian customer, whether the phone was purchased on a plan through a telco partner, outright from a retailer or through Samsung's own online store, will be contacted in the coming days to be advised of the process.
Even phones purchased online via eBay or brought into the country via grey market importers will be covered by Samsung Australia; the company's goal is to contact 100 per cent of customers as part of the global replacement, repair or refund program. Samsung Australia's coprorate vice president and chief marketing officer Philip Newton told Gizmodo the company was going to consumers proactively as the right thing to do: "We don't care where you bought it; we'll provide you with your choice of remedy."
Any repairs, involving a battery replacement within an existing phone, if that is the option chosen by the consumer, will be done by Samsung technicians using specialised jigs built by the company's factories. These repair jigs are able to disassemble the phone in the order and manner that it was constructed in, replace the internal components, and reassemble it without compromising build quality or the Note7's IP68 waterproofing.
Samsung expects to have more details to share on the process early next week, including more detail on how customers will be contacted. It's expected that Samsung's major carrier partners Telstra, Optus and Vodafone will play a major role, as they retain the most information on purchases of the Note7, and the procedure will likely come at no cost to customers.
Samsung recommends that any customer that feels unsafe using their Note7 in the interim can return to their place of purchase to discuss their options, with retailers expected to be forthcoming. Samsung's own customer support and service teams will be able to respond to customer inquiries, too, with staff being trained on the procedure over the weekend.
Update: In terms of what happens next for Note7 owners, Samsung has committed to making the process as convenient as possible. Any customer that doesn't want to use their Note7 — and Samsung is recommending that customers don't use their devices any more, out of an abundance of caution — is able to contact Samsung, and the company will arrange a temporary alternative loan device, and have their Note7 collected for replacement or repair. Customers will also be able to visit Samsung kiosks and the company's Experience Stores to swap devices.