After weeks of investigation, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission announced a formal recall of the Galaxy Note 7 in conjunction with Samsung today. The move outlines the problems with the phone's exploding battery and puts in place a path for consumers to return or replace the device. The news should come as source of relief for Samsung customers, many of whom have been grappling with the company's mixed messaging and sometimes confusing responses to the Note 7's ongoing issues. The formal recall covers about 1 million devices.
"Consumers should immediately stop using and power down the recalled Galaxy Note 7 devices purchased before September 15th, 2016," reads the CPSC's recommendation. "Contact the wireless carrier, retail outlet, or Samsung.com where you purchased your device to receive free of charge a new Galaxy Note 7 with a different battery, a refund, or a new replacement device." The CPSC has also updated the US incident count, pegging the number of units with overheating batteries at 92, including 26 reports of burns and 55 reports of property damage.
"Immediately stop using and power down the recalled Galaxy Note 7"
The CPSC has had a staggered response to the recall due to delayed communications with Samsung, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. The tension there has made it difficult for US carriers to issue new devices, and every Note 7 has needed approval from the CPSC before it can be cleared for consumers. A software update issued to South Korean owners earlier this week caps the battery capacity at 60 percent, supposedly to prevent overheating and eventual battery combustion. The fix is a stopgap, and it's not yet available to Note 7 owners outside South Korea.
T-Mobile, in response to the CPSC recall, released a statement saying it expects Samsung shipments of replacement Note 7's to arrive "no later than September 21st." For those interested in getting a different device, the company says customers will receive a full refund on the Note 7 and any accessories, and the money can put toward any device in T-Mobile's inventory. T-Mobile will also waive any restocking charges and shipping fees, and it's also including a $25 credit on their monthly cell bill. Samsung had previously said its replacement Note 7's will come in boxes with a blue "S" over the barcode sticker.
Likewise, AT&T issued a similar statement saying it will receive inventory of new Galaxy Note 7s from Samsung no later than September 21st. "These devices have been tested by Samsung and approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission," reads the support note. AT&T customers with the original Note 7 "are strongly encouraged to immediately power down and stop using their device and visit their original place of purchase to exchange that device."
Replacement Note 7's will be in stock on September 21st
Samsung first acknowledged problems with the phone's battery on September 2nd, when it issued a recall with a statement telling owners it would "voluntarily replace [users'] current device with a new one over the coming weeks." This lack of clarity, compounded by follow-up statements telling users to power the phone off, has turned the situation into a pressing and financially sensitive situation for Samsung. The company's stock is currently experiencing its largest ever price decline in its 28 years as a public company.
Meanwhile, mobile analytics company Apteligent, which issued a report on the Note 7 this week, claims the "usage rate of the phone among existing users has been almost the exact same since the day of the recall." In other words, Note 7 users are ignoring Samsung's recommendations and continuing to use the phone. According to Recode, only 130,000 Note 7 units have been returned as part of Samsung's exchange program. So this recall, while giving people formal instructions on how to get a replacement or return the Note 7, is also designed to highlight the dangers of continuing to use the device.
Update September 15th, 4:50PM ET: Added statements from T-Mobile and AT&T.