Sam­sung halts Note 7 sales af­ter fire re­ports

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - NATION+WORLD - By Bree Fowler

NEW YORK >> Wor­ries about the safety of Sam­sung’s re­place­ment Galaxy Note 7 smart­phones have con­sumers fret­ting about what to do.

U.S. reg­u­la­tors or­dered a re­call of the orig­i­nal Note 7, a huge phone-bor­der­ing-on-tablet with a huge bat­tery, in late Septem­ber af­ter the de­vices demon­strated an un­wel­come ten­dency to catch fire.

Now, fol­low­ing re­ports that the com­pany’s re­place­ment ver­sions have also over­heated or caught fire, Sam­sung has halted Note 7 sales and ad­vised cus­tomers to power down their de­vices or re­place them.

Of­fi­cials from the U.S. Con­sumer Product Safety Com­mis­sion echoed that ad­vice in their own state­ment, adding that they are con­tin­u­ing to in­ves­ti­gate at least five in­ci­dents of fire or over­heat­ing re­ported since a for­mal re­call was an­nounced Sept. 15.

The four ma­jor U.S. mo­bile car­ri­ers, mean­while, have all sus­pended tradeins for the re­place­ment phones; so have ma­jor re­tail­ers such as Best Buy. In­stead, these com­pa­nies are of­fer­ing to swap Note 7s out for any other smart­phone of the cus­tomer’s choice.

Here’s a look at the op­tions for Note 7 own­ers.

SWAP FOR DIFER­ENT SAM­SUNG PHONE

Sam­sung’s equiv­a­lent phones are mostly, well, old. If you just dropped sev­eral hun­dred dol­lars on the lat­est Sam­sung de­vice, do you re­ally want to trade it for last year’s model?

One op­tion is Sam­sung’s Galaxy S smart­phone, which is slightly smaller and cheaper than the Note. While it has many of the same fea­tures of the Note, it lacks a sty­lus and the Note 7’s iris scan­ner. The phone also came out in March, which might ren­der it per­ilously close to mid­dle-aged where cut­ting-edge types are con­cerned.

An older ver­sion of the Note is also an op­tion, though also a dis­ap­point­ing one, given that the Note 5 (there was no Note 6) launched more than a year ago. Many Note 7 own­ers may al­ready own one, or re­cently traded theirs in to get the Note 7.

Corey Nah­man, a 56-year-old sales­man for a drug com­pany in Long Is­land, anx­iously awaited the ar­rival of the Note 7 and ex­cit­edly bought $150 worth of ac­ces­sories to go with it.

The Sam­sung loy­al­ist also owns a Sam­sung tablet, TV and washer and dryer. Now he has a re­place­ment Note 7 but isn’t sure what he’s sup­posed to do with it.

“I’m not an­gry at them,” he says. “I’m more an­noyed that no­body knows what’s go­ing on.”

Nah­man says he loves the Note 7, but he’s get­ting a lot of pres­sure from his wife to swap out his phone, maybe for the Google Pixel XL. In the mean­time he’s be­ing care­ful not to charge his phone overnight. He turns it off com­pletely be­fore bed.

SWAP FOR PHONE MADE ELSE­WHERE

Google’s new Pixel phones are com­ing out later this month, while LG and HTC also have large An­droid smart­phones of vary­ing ages on the mar­ket.

Ap­ple’s iPhone 7 also re­cently launched, and has been fairly well re­ceived even though it no longer fea­tures the stan­dard head­phone jack. That means Note 7 own­ers would need adapters for their old ear­buds; they might also find it jar­ring to switch from an An­droid phone to the iPhone.

John Black­s­hear, an aca­demic dean at Duke Univer­sity, was a Sam­sung loy­al­ist. He swapped his Note 7 — the third Galaxy Note he’s had — for the re­place­ment ver­sion in Septem­ber. But af­ter hear­ing re­ports of prob­lems with the re­place­ment Note 7s, he traded in that phone for an iPhone 7 Plus on Fri­day.

But his wife, who also has a re­place­ment Note 7, hasn’t swapped hers be­cause she likes it so much and re­lies on it for her job at Duke, he says.

“I don’t know if it’s a big deal or not,” Black­s­hear says. “We haven’t got­ten any­thing from Ver­i­zon or Sam­sung. There haven’t been emails or calls. I want to get some­thing of­fi­cial.”

In the mean­time, he says he and his wife are keep­ing the phone stored in high places where his three young chil­dren can’t grab it.

WAIT IT OUT

The ob­vi­ous down­side: Po­ten­tial over­heat­ing and fire for those who in­sist on us­ing their Note 7s. If you have an older phone ly­ing around that you could re­ac­ti­vate for a while, this might not be a bad choice. Just make sure to power the Note 7 down be­fore toss­ing it in a drawer.

It’s pos­si­ble that com­pany and gov­ern­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tions will de­ter­mine that the fires, at least those in­volv­ing the re­place­ment phones, were just iso­lated in­ci­dents. Or Sam­sung might re­lease another re­place­ment phone that’s ac­tu­ally safe be­fore long.

It’s too early to tell. In the mean­time, bet­ter safe than sorry.

ANDREW ZUIS VIA AP

This photo pro­vided by Andrew Zuis, of Farm­ing­ton, Minn., shows the re­place­ment Sam­sung Galaxy Note 7 phone be­long­ing to his 13-year-old daugh­ter Abby, that melted in her hand ear­lier in the day. Re­ports of more re­place­ment phones catch­ing fire are trickling in, and the South Korean tech gi­ant faces more scru­tiny af­ter ear­lier crit­i­cism for be­ing slow to re­act and send­ing con­fus­ing sig­nals in the first days of the re­call.

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