Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 wasn’t officially recalled in the US until just this afternoon, and the company’s efforts to get customers to turn in their devices earlier has only resulted in a fraction of those sold coming back to the company so far. The company confirmed to the The Verge today that about 130,000 Note 7s have been exchanged to date, while the US Consumer Product Safety Commission said about one million devices are affected by the recall. That leaves almost 90 percent of the Note 7s sold still left in the wild.
This information jibes with data from analytics firm Apteligent, which says that "usage rate of the phone among existing users has been almost the exact same since the day of the [unofficial] recall." Samsung first issued a stop sale on the Note 7 on September 2nd and notified the public of the problem with the battery that can cause the phone to heat up to the point of catching fire. It also announced its exchange program on that date, which let customers that had purchased a Note 7 trade it in for another device while they waited for safe units to arrive. The company says it alerted the CPSC before making the global announcement to the public.
One of the likely reasons for why relatively few people have exchanged their devices so far has been the lack of replacement Note 7s. Samsung says that retail stores will have new devices that are safe and approved by the CPSC available for exchange "no later than September 21st." It did not say when the Note 7 will go back on general sale.
Samsung says it will use various marketing tools to encourage people to exchange defective Note 7s, including emails and alerts to customers that have opted in to them. It will also work with carriers to contact customers that need to exchange their devices.
Identifying "safe" Note 7s could be an issue for the general public
Of course, once Note 7 customers do exchange their devices for another, there will be the issue of identifying which models are defective and which are safe to use. A source close to the company says that Samsung will use software to indicate safe models, but there will be no visible indicators on the device’s hardware. This could make it difficult for anyone owning a safe Note 7 to use it in public places such as airplanes or transit, as the FAA and other agencies have banned the use of defective models. The source also noted that the packaging on replacement units will have indicators and different bar codes from the recalled version. Samsung says that it has issued an update to its Samsung+ app that lets Note 7 owners check if they have an affected unit or a safe device.
Part of the CPSC report today said that Samsung has received 92 reports of Note 7 batteries overheating, with 26 reports of burns and 55 of property damage. If the company is unable to convince many more owners to exchange their devices, chances are those figures are going to rise in the near future.