back to article Smell burning? Samsung’s 'Death Note 7' could still cause a contagion

Samsung’s rivals in the cut-throat flagship phone market shouldn’t pop open the champagne just yet. While in the short term, Sony, HTC and Google could see some upside from Samsung’s now-deceased “Death Note”, in the long term the market and the consumer benefit from a high margin leader. But it would be a dead cat bounce: a …

  1. James 51 Silver badge

    It's a pity about the note 7, it was the Android that made me think seriously about leaving BB10 based on the merits of the phone rather than a lack of support for the former. Perhaps a Note 8 with a removable battery will roll along in 12 or 18 months.

    The S6 isn't a bad phone, just a pity its battery life is utterly abysmal. If I use it full pelt I'd be lucky to get 90 minutes out of it.

    1. Ru'
      Unhappy

      I'm still soldiering on with my S5, couldn't see much of a reason to upgrade until the Note 7 came along.

      Now I've been hit with a double whammy; the '7 is no more, and my work are about to molest an iphone onto me.

      1. John 90

        You can soldier on with an S5, but with an S7 you could solder on ...

      2. BillG Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Is Apple to Blame? Conspiracy Theoriests Unite!

        Samsung put on its concerned face, briefly, and pressed ahead with a global launch. It was forced to undertake a global recall in mid-September, shifting the blame to its battery supplier.

        It is the fault of the battery supplier.

        Lithium batteries are not supposed to catch fire. They are supposed to have overcharge and short-circuit protection built in and the chips that do that are almost fool-proof. My engineering guess, and it's a guess, is that it is the physical construction of the lithium battery cells that is causing the problem.

        However, one cannot rule out manufacturing sabotage. Would Apple stoop that low?

        1. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

          Re: Is Apple to Blame? Conspiracy Theoriests Unite!

          Could be the battery manufacturer, but lithium ion batteries in particular seem susceptible to this sort of failure. Methinks we've gotten a bit ahead of the science -- we haven't quite figured out how to keep this particular bit of high-density energy storage remain reliably stable. Yet we're building entire technologies around it, and pushing its limits every chance we get.

        2. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

          Re: Is Apple to Blame? Conspiracy Theoriests Unite!

          @BillG Then why did changing battery suppliers not fix it then? (See tiesx150's comment below.)

          1. BillG Silver badge

            Re: Is Apple to Blame? Conspiracy Theoriests Unite!

            @BillG Then why did changing battery suppliers not fix it then?

            @Brewster, because in today's supply chain often changing the supplier just means the same product built elsewhere. The other battery supplier could be a "second source", meaning they make the exact same product with the same specs as the primary supplier, but manufactured elsewhere. This type of second sourcing addresses defects in manufacturing, but unfortunately not defects in product design. Samsung is so secretive about this that we may never know if that is the case.

            Modern lithium batteries contain circuits, simple circuits that protect against overvoltage charging, so if the phone is sending too high a charging voltage to the battery the battery decreases the voltage. Same for short-circuit protection and anything else you want to connect to the battery terminals. The technology to do this is proven and mature, so if that simple circuitry failed it's true incompetence. That leaves the battery chemistry suspect.

            BTW my Apple sabotage comment was tongue-in-cheek, so lighten up Francis, but if you do not think industrial sabotage goes on today then you do not know modern business.

        3. Ashley_Pomeroy

          Re: Is Apple to Blame? Conspiracy Theoriests Unite!

          iFixIt has a teardown of the Note - the battery is crammed behind a wireless charging coil, and is hemmed in with a little cradle which is supposed to reinforce the case. I wonder if the tight packing causes the battery to overheat, or if the reinforcements paradoxically cause the battery to crack if the phone bends.

        4. DougS Silver badge
          WTF?

          Re: Is Apple to Blame? Conspiracy Theoriests Unite!

          Seriously? How exactly could Apple possibly accomplish this? The dodgy battery supplier was Samsung SDI (yeah, Samsung itself owns "only" 30%, but those companies are an insane maze of cross ownership, so I'll bet the Lee family actually owns a majority if not 100% share of it)

          You're suggesting that Apple got someone on the inside in Samsung or at least a subsidiary, and got them to produce batteries likely to explode without anyone finding out? And then got them to choose a Chinese supplier for the replacement batteries that STILL exploded?

          Or if the batteries actually aren't the problem, they inserted a flaw in the Note 7 hardware itself?

          Why Apple? If anyone could accomplish this, it would be more likely to be LG, since they are both Korean companies and probably have some employee movement between the two. Also, Apple would benefit little from Samsung having problems - it isn't like Note 7 customers are going to flee to Apple, most of them are likely to stick with Android. Unless Apple's infiltration squad is going to take down all the high end Android phones...if so look out Google, Apple is coming for the Pixel!

        5. kyndair

          Re: Is Apple to Blame? Conspiracy Theoriests Unite!

          yes and no, with fixed batteries some manufacturers are saving a few cents by doing it on the phone side rather than battery side (i.e. fabbing it into their bespoke soc rather than separate fail-safe control in the battery), this could be the case here with someone having messed up the calculations and phone pushing or pulling to much on the battery (or both)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Is Apple to Blame? Conspiracy Theoriests Unite!

            Why Apple, maybe ISIS infiltrated Samsungs supply chain...

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Is Apple to Blame? Conspiracy Theoriests Unite!

              ISIS

              Explosions.

              Sounds like an Archer plot...yeah I'd go with ISIS!

        6. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Is Apple to Blame? Conspiracy Theoriests Unite!

          "... short-circuit protection built in..."

          If it's an internal short circuit (a la Sony a few years ago), then there's nothing that an electronic circuit can do. The solution has to be built into the chemistry and physical design of the cell, to self-limit the total energy released when things go wrong.

          Some lithium primary (non rechargeable) used in aircraft ELTs are (reportedly) so well designed and qualified that a nail can be hammered through without too much excitement. But other examples set fire to 787s parked at Heathrow. So it's not yet universal.

          1. YetAnotherLocksmith

            Re: Is Apple to Blame? Conspiracy Theoriests Unite!

            It's one line of code. Seriously, it isn't even that: it's one variable, the firmware charge voltage is set too high.

            The charge voltage is set to 4.3V in the first explodo-phones, & the replacement units have it at at a frankly stupid 4.35V! Safe charging on a LiPo battery is 4.23V, absolute max, 4.2V is regarded as the same upper limit.

            It is also a one second firmware fix! So what the hell is really going on?

            1. Alan Johnson

              Re: Is Apple to Blame? Conspiracy Theoriests Unite!

              What is this based on. Do you actually have inside knowledge? Why if it is that simple has it not been done? In every system I have designed the battery charge voltage limit is implemented in electronics and NOT software for very obvious reasons.

              I call b******t.

              1. YetAnotherLocksmith

                Re: Is Apple to Blame? Conspiracy Theoriests Unite!

                Yes, and that's how it should've been here - but it wasn't. You can go google the teardown yourself, the original Note7 firmware charged the battery to 4.3V, and the replacement bumped it up to a stupid 4.35V! Yes, they were meant to be able to take it, but surely the sensible thing to do would've been to turn it down, not up!

        7. macjules Silver badge

          Re: Is Apple to Blame? Conspiracy Theoriests Unite!

          I gather that they have now joined the burnfest, Exploding iPhone 7: http://en.people.cn/n3/2016/1011/c90000-9125517.html

    2. N13L5

      This report's starting conclusions are pretty ridiculous and imaginary.

      If the 800 pound phone gorilla falls, its SOMEHOW bad for the other guys?

      AND The phone market "needs a high margin leader" Maybe so, but anyone of the other capable companies can take over that position. Could well be Sony, the most prominent brand name among the competitors, or the Chinese giant, but they have an unpronounceable name and aren't even well regarded in Shenzhen or Hong Kong.

      Its not like we're loosing Google, who really is the 800 pound "leader", not Samsung.

      I doubt anybody is ready to count out Samsung yet. The reputation gained from a long line of reliable and capable phones over many years doesn't die from a single massive mistake.

      But yeah, you can see how and why Corporation's products, strategies and especially their words can't and shouldn't be trusted. They're almost as incapable of telling or admitting the truth of anything as Secret Services are, like CIA, MI6, FBI, NSA, KGB etc. And their pure focus on money taints everything.

  2. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Just don't buy a Samsung

    I'm the biggest Android fanboi outside of Sundar Pichai but I wouldn't touch Samsung's "TouchPiss" UI with his 10ft pole.

    Buy a Nexus. Or a Pixel (but not from Verizon)

    1. James 51 Silver badge

      Re: Just don't buy a Samsung

      You could stick a launcher like Hub on to take the edge of it.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: Just don't buy a Samsung

        I didnt buy a carrier locked note 3 so it wasnt app locked either. Just put a different (or vanilla) launcher, it isnt hard.

    2. P. Lee Silver badge

      Re: Just don't buy a Samsung

      Or do buy a Samsung.

      They'll be really cheap and the chance of them actually exploding is still really small.

  3. tiesx150

    I hope they identify and release details of what caused these devices to randomly turn into pocket bombs.

    My guess is a hardware issue with the charge circuitry. I don't know enough about the science behind LION charging but i was under the impression Samsung don't use standardised charging tech in their phones.... Pretty sure my S7 doensn't have/support Qualcomm quick-charge, i think its called Samsung fastcharge something along those lines..... if they have stopped production completely and ordered a full recall i can only assume this is a fundamental design failure that cant be fixed rather than a dodgy batch of components? Anyone wiith the know-how have thoughts/suggestions/theories ?

  4. David Roberts Silver badge

    From hipster to idiot in 30 seconds?

    Owning a new bling phone has flipped from being on trend to on fire.

    The shame of being tricked by Samsung is going to last for a while.

  5. andy 103

    How to damage a brand in one easy step

    It's hard to quantify how much damage this will do to Samsung.

    The bottom line is this - nobody should be scared of their mobile phone/tablet exploding or catching fire. Given the proximity in which we use these things (and possibly charge them next to our heads whilst asleep), that's just a totally unacceptable position.

    It doesn't matter what they try and blame it on. At the end of the day, it's a product with their name on it. It's not a budget/cheapo device and has come from a manufacturer that has tried to sell itself on the quality of it's hardware.

    It'll be interesting to see what the results from this actually are, but my suspicion is that they've raced too fast to try and bring something out and checks have slipped through the net that might have presented this. If that does turn out to be the case then I'm looking forward to seeing them lose lots of business. Sky News reported they've lost $10 billion off their stock valuation already, so they'd better give an explanation soon.

  6. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

    Anybody know why it has a tendency to spontaneously combust?

    If it's not the battery cells, is it because the phone is flexible, causing the battery to bend? Is the device pulling more current than the battery can handle? Are they randomly cursed by witches working in the factory?

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      Shit battery.

      1. MrDamage

        > "Shit battery"

        As others have pointed out, it's happened even after they changed suppliers, so it's more design, than quality.

        Either the too-thin case allows the phone to bend, thus damaging the battery, or the wireless charging coil is heating up and melting the plastic shell of the battery, or the lack of sufficient cooling on th cpu causes the same melting, or cheap dodgy USB3 charging cables, or the IMF got sick of having to modify standard hardware before sending Ethan off on a n mission, and just bollocksed the design of the Note 7 so it would self destruct after playing a certain message.

  7. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Samsung Electronics should just about be able to absorb an expense

    I think you'll find that the accounting rules will make it much easier to absorb than the current numbers being bandied about suggest. Hence, the stock seems more sensitive to movements by Elliott Capital than anything else.

    No, for Samsung, while the write-offs will be painful, what's most important is the PR around how this is handled and how they can prevent similar problems in the future. And in this I agree with you: Samsung's success is important to the whole sector.

  8. J. R. Hartley Silver badge

    In the words of Celine Dion:

    This is serious.

  9. Rabbit80

    LG??

    LG could make a killing if they hurry up and release the V20 here! It ticks many of the boxes the Note 7 did and has removable battery and micro SD expansion.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But...

    ... no other manufacturer is producing a decent smartphone with a stylus like Samsung is. What the hell am I going to do on upgrade day now ;-( I'll just have to stick with my Note 4 until they release the Note 8 and i doubt that will happen until the S8 is close to release next year.

  11. JimmyPage Silver badge
    WTF?

    Seriously, is reality changing ?

    Samsung, VW, Hotpoint - all massive fails.

    A perpetual war in Syria where no two sides ever seem the same.

    A presidential election between two candidates that would lose to Adolf Hitler if he stood.

    WTF is going on in reality ? Is the matrix crashing ?

  12. Dan 55 Silver badge

    I don't think Samsung's problems will be a problem for the others

    When Elop killed Nokia in Finland with the operating system, it was the best thing that ever happened to Samsung.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Shurely the 'Samsung Suicide Note 7'?

    This is going to be difficult for them to recover from in a stagnant market where the 'innovation' mostly seems to be in styling of the products and fairly minor hardware performance increments.

    1. Khaptain Silver badge

      Re: Seriously, is reality changing ?

      "WTF is going on in reality ? Is the matrix crashing ?"

      No, it's just becoming more visible......

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Seriously, is reality changing ?

      Perhaps someone's testing an Infinite Improbability Drive, but hasn't quite nailed the right temperature for the tea yet.

    3. 404 Silver badge
      Happy

      Occasionally I get a win vs. Murphy's World

      Went from our perfectly fine* Samsung Note 3's to the LG G5 and haven't been happier in some time over a phone. The speed, 3.0 USB, wide angle & regular cameras, signal reception, Android security updates, and ironically Samsung fast-as-hell PRO Class 10 64GB SDXC card - it's a keeper.

      * The Note 3's were more than powerful enough to run Marshmallow and that was my whole reason for upgrading, I needed Marshmallow for some things I was working on.

    4. AIBailey

      Re: In the words of Celine Dion:

      It's a shame this is affecting Samsung and not HTC - I've got my Lana Del Rey's "Burning Desire" joke all ready to go.

    5. Patrician

      Re: LG??

      I would agree with you but for the fact that the LG I had was the worst mobile I ever owned for not getting a 3G signal; even in areas where other phones on the same network were getting 3/4 bars my LG was getting zero/1 bar and was pretty much unusable anywhere without a full, strong signal.

      After that I'd never switch to LG I'm afraid.

    6. Yesnomaybe

      Re: But...

      I am in the same boat. I am hoping for two things: They will stop trying to force me to upgrade by filling my phone with bloat for a little while, at least until they have the Note8 ready. And. They will have to make the Note8 VERY attractively priced, to undo the damage the Note7 caused. (My Note4 is still a tremendously good phone, but it is ridiculous that software it could run perfectly well two years ago, is now running really badly, or not at all. Blatant and in my opinion criminal)

  14. tiggity Silver badge

    Disagree with general consensus here...

    "By the general consensus, this was regarded as the best Android phone ever made"

    Only in the world of those who do not like removable batteries i.e planned obsolescence enthusiasts - lots of people were complaining about fixed battery

    In your own reg review, http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/1/2016/08/03/samsung_note_7/ , it only takes a few comment before someone mentions non removable battery (not as a good thing!) and the topic recurs often e.g. "I'd love the updated screen etc, but lack of removable battery is just killing me"

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Disagree with general consensus here...

      In the Note 7's case, maybe literally.

      1. sabroni Silver badge

        Re: Disagree with general consensus here...

        The comment threads on here aren't really a representative sample of the target consumer base though. The vast majority of users don't give a fuck about removable batteries or fixed batteries wouldn't have become so common...

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge

          Re: Disagree with general consensus here...

          Note 3 since launch. Changed the battery in july so no need to upgrade for a few more years. Wouldnt be able to do that with nonremoveable battery.

          1. psychonaut

            Re: Disagree with general consensus here...

            yup, i can kill a battery so that it lasts about half the time compared to when it was new in about 9 months.gps, bluettoth, wifi , 4g, all the toys get used all day long. oh, and phone calls obviously. i dont want to have to wander around with a fucking heavy battery pack in my pocket all day. pull back off, new battery for 20 quid or so and im good to go. i was so dissapointed when the note 7 didnt have a removable battery and was looking around for a new phone (its upgrade time now!!) ...im kinda glad it didnt have a removable battery now.

            what gets me is that noone makes a waterproof (to like 1m , so it can survive a fall into, say, a sink or a toilet for a small period of time, i dont want to scuba dive with the bloody thing) phone with a removable battery. its not impossible is it? rubber membrane and screws, pig vat, KY, whatever. make the thing 2mm thicker or whatever. my phone is already massive, im not going to worry about it being a bit thicker. and put a bigger battery in it while you are at it.

            1. Ian Watkinson

              Re: Disagree with general consensus here...

              " a fucking heavy battery pack"

              So buy a small light one then.

              Which can also charge other devices.

              Why buy 200 spare batteries for your phone? If you need 200 batteries life worth of charging for your phone you COULD buy 200 spare batteries, or a really " fucking heavy battery pack"

              I know which one is easier to charge for second use...

              or you know do what the rest of humanity does and get one that suits their needs and charge it overnight/in the car/on the train etc...

    2. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: Disagree with general consensus here...

      The "it must have a removable battery" brigade are sounding more and more like a religious belief system.

      Seriously, I really don't understand it. External battery packs are considerably more convenient and safer - easier to charge and safer as you don't have a relatively naked battery lying around. They're also somewhat more "future proof" as batteries are only suitable for a single revision of a mobile phone. I've done this, been there and I've moved onto external battery packs. Yes, they're not quite so glamorous as we have to have a cable connected but I can at least charge and carry them safely.

      1. Triggerfish

        Re: Disagree with general consensus here...

        Is it not bit of a pain to wander round with a phone and a removable battery pack attached in your pocket, seems somewhat inconvenient to me?

      2. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

        Re: Disagree with general consensus here...

        Already did a longer post on this earlier, on a different article, but... I like the options a removable battery gives me. Pull the battery and my phone is instantly untraceable and cannot be turned on remotely nor spied on. And I can replace a worn battery in 20 seconds using a fingernail, instead of an hour of meticulous disassembly and reassembly using a spudger, suction cup and jeweller's screwdrivers. And torx drivers.

        I don't think that's religion. I think it's personal preference. Can't speak for others, ofc.

      3. Hey Nonny Nonny Mouse

        Re: Disagree with general consensus here...

        The problem with external battery packs is that they are limited in current capability, you can only stuff so many amps through a piece of copper wire and those tiny connectors before it becomes possible to light a cig on it.

        An internal, removeable or otherwise, battery and holder can be designed to provide many amps of current and, if it's removeable, it can be replaced when it goes flat offering effectively instant recharge.

        I used to carry about a spare battery for my phones, it's amazing how often it got used in the early hours of the morning in data centres or remote sites where it was inconvenient to recharge the phone.

        Then I got a HTC One, I love the phone but miss the removeable battery and SD card as it goes flat at the most inconvenient times and I'd really make good use of a large capacity SD card in it.

      4. salamamba too

        Re: Disagree with general consensus here...

        the problem being when your phone battery goes. I am still happily using an original Samsung Note, with replaced battery. It's not just about battery life, but phone life.

        Trying to use the phone with an external powerpack constantly attached - as the original battery could no longer hold more than a 10 minute charge - would have been unworkable. Instead, £3 for a replacement generic battery and the phone lives on.

      5. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Disagree with general consensus here...

        "Seriously, I really don't understand it."

        The lifespan of a LiIon battery in these things is about a year. Being able to change it out is advantageous

  15. Kirstian K
    Coat

    Its a translation issue:

    They didnt say its the best Android ever,

    they said:

    [dev] its the hotest piece of exploding technoligy we have produced.

    [marketing] sell sell sell its the hotest tech we have...!

    [Translate to other languages] best android ever etc.

    its a simple mistake'a to make'a..

  16. John Mangan

    In situations like this . . .

    . . I usually picture a fairly junior employee (possibly wearing a white coat) enduring meeting after meeting and trying to point out a possible flaw in the wonderful device under discussion only to be shot down by his manager, finance director, marketing, etc. because "we can't afford not to ship!".

    Maybe I've been in IT too long or I just watch the wrong kind of movies.

  17. SquidEmperor

    NOTE 4

    I've been hanging on to my Note 4 waiting for the Note 7 and I was going to grab it faster than Trump grabbing married pussy in a furniture store...but now? I actually spent the morning looking at an LG phone. Good God..what is happening with the world?

  18. Conrad Longmore

    Remember the iPhone 4. Or maybe the Ford Pinto.

    Remember the iPhone 4 and antennagate? People wondered how Apple could regain the trust of customers after messing that up, and yet they fixed the problem and moved on. There's no real reason why this should turn into significant long-term damage for Samsung

    If no other models start to blow up. If their PR machine gets back on track. And their competitors don't capitalise on the problem.

    People still buy cars from Ford too, despite the beancounters deciding that it was cheaper to let people die in the deathtrap they called the Ford Pinto rather than fix the underlying problems. Consumers can be surprisingly forgiving with companies that they trust.

  19. abufrejoval

    Note 7 was never the best Android phone by far

    I bought the original Note the minute it got out: The size was just right for my eyes and fingers.

    I also bought the Note 3 the minute it got out, because the Note 1 had issues with performance and battery life that were hard to ignore when you put an SIII or pretty much everything else at the time next to it.

    The Note 3 still is pretty much a perfect phone and I continue to use it (actually the Note 1 ist also still active) and thanks to new batteries, Mumbi silicon sleeves and glass covers they all look pristine and perform at their respective optimums.

    Thanks also to a large community of ROM developers both run Marshmallow with current security fixes.

    Of course they are rooted, because these are miniature PCs, which happen to have a phone built in. Can't have anyone mess around with my PC, in fact that's illegal where I live, quite independent of who produced or sold the device: You modify software or data on a computer without the owner's permission you go to jail around here (Germany).

    So what's wrong with the newer Notes?

    You can't root them any more, which means you can't take control of a computer you bought. That means you can't trust it any more as somebody else has more control than you. Could be Samsung, could be Gooble (spelling intentional) could be anyone with sufficient criminal energy, but evidently not you, the owner. Doesn't get any more wrong that that, honestly.

    You can't store the data outside the mPC itself any more (somewhat fixed on the 7 actually), because SDcards were first banned then allowed back with limited functionality. So if your phone decides to die or break on you, there is no way to get the data off. Primary storage of data on SDcards mean that you can simply take the card to another mobile or your desktop PC and get things off.

    You can't properly protect your mobile computer from breaking, because they went with design over function. The metal body has absolutely no functional advantage over the previous plastic and once the device is in a proper silicon cover, which protects the backside, all edges and even the front via raised silicon edges, the body material is invisible anyway. The only thing that matters on an mPC is the screen anyway and that needs protection via a changeable hard glass cover that goes right under the raised edge of the silicon cover.

    At least that's how it was until Samsung lost their sense and started this edge nonsense, which mostly means that both the edges and the front of the device can no longer be properly protected with a silicon sleeve and a glass cover.

    I don't make it a sport throwing my phone around like others do, but it does get dropped from time to time. It drops in rain, it drops on tiled floors and even on rocks from time to time, because those are often around when you run to catch a plane, a bus, a metro or just need to open a door while managing kids and groceries at the same time. I don't expect engineers to create a device that doesn't scratch nor spinter, I just want them to allow me to compensate in a way that suits me.

    I got Notes, because I have large hands and bad eyes and I don't need nor care for a fashion accessory. I'd much rather have a docking station with USB 3 or better to hook up Ethernet, at least one external Monitor, keyboard and mice to turn the mPC into a better desktop replacement: By now it certainly has enough computing power and storage capacity (via SDcard or USB) to do that.

    Samsung's Note series started as a mobile PC Android device oriented towards professional users. And at one point they took one wrong term after the other, until they ruined it completely.

    In my eyes they completely deserved what they got, but because they designed a mPC which was wrong in just about every way. But I'm afraid they won't understand the message just as evidently the author of this article didn't.

    There is a gadget or design accessory mobile phone already out there. It's called the S7 or S7 Plus, or Edge: I don't remember nor do I care. There is a market for these devices and Samsung should serve it as best they can.

    But why on earth did they have to turn the professional device into such a disaster?

    Got myself a LeEco Le Max 2 a couple of weeks ago.

    Qualcom 820, 6GB RAM, 64GB UFS, 5.7" 2560x1440 display.

    Yes it has a metal body, but it came with a silicon case and a glass screen cover.

    I ordered 2 extra sets, just because they might be more difficult to get later.

    Can't swap the battery, can't get extra external storage, which I find sad.

    But it's easy to root, it now runs Canogemod 13, neither bloat nor spyware.

    And at €350 it was so cheap I could afford to buy the slightly "smaller" version (4GB RAM/32GB UFS) @ €230 on top without reaching the price of a single Samsung pocket warmer.

    The only problem that I have is that a weakened Samsung allows Google to pursue their gApple strategy with even less opposition.

    May both get what they deserve!

    Asking for big money without delivering significant value to the customer tends to annoy them.

  20. Gio Ciampa

    Any chance...

    ...of deciding what currency you're going to use, and sticking to it?

    "The $882 Galaxy Note 7" here, "can save you £150 to £200" there...

    ...or is the Sterling/Dollar exchange rate too fluid these days to put both in...?

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: In situations like this . . .

      Yes, sounds like Samsung.

    2. GrapeBunch Bronze badge

      Re: Any chance...

      <sterling versus yankee dollars> Paul Whitehouse, the Welsh actor, doing his geezer skit could set you straight on that.

    3. JimmyPage Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: In situations like this . . .

      Seven red lines

    4. psychonaut

      Re: Note 7 was never the best Android phone by far

      bloody hell. didnt read hardly any of that, but yes, the note 3 was great, camera was a bit shit in low light though. the 4 isnt much better though and ive had some issues with call quality on it.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Any chance...

      "...or is the Sterling/Dollar exchange rate too fluid these days to put both in...?"

      Sterling is predicted to reach parity with both the Euro and US Dollar any day soon. The Euro rate has gone from 66p to over 90p in only a few years - but mostly since the BREXIT vote.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Remember the iPhone 4. Or maybe the Ford Pinto.

      Maybe all isn't lost for Samsung, as always Dilbert has the answer

      http://dilbert.com/strip/2001-07-29

    7. Lotaresco

      Re: Remember the iPhone 4. Or maybe the Ford Pinto.

      "Remember the iPhone 4 and antennagate?"

      Yes, antennagate was both massively over-hyped and easy to avoid - just don't use "the grip of death". Although it was only an issue if you were making a call with a signal strength of one bar. There are people still using the iPhone4 without any issues. A lot depends on the carrier used. I recall O2 being a difficult network because of the spacing of their transmitters which had originally been sited for analogue phone signals.

      A phone that burns down your car, house, aeroplane or burns a hole in your thigh is a bit different as problems go. The unique feature of this fail seems to be the speed and intensity of the overheating. Phones have over-heated in the past, from many different makers but those events seem to have affected only a few devices and were attributable to poor battery assembly. The GN7 problem seems different and Samsung claiming they had fixed it only to have it happen again falls foul of Lady Bracknell's rule.

    8. Lotaresco

      Re: Any chance...

      ""The $882 Galaxy Note 7" here, "can save you £150 to £200" there..."

      Heck yes, it's not as if currency confusion has happened before, is it? Cockneys asking someone if they can borrow a dollar or half a dollar, Americans going on about pennies. That never happens.

  21. LDS Silver badge

    Ahhh, now I understand waterproof phones...

    ... it's for when you throw them in the water to extinguish fire.

    Jokes apart, Samsung will need to review its naming strategy Galaxy Note 7 and Galaxy S7 are names too close for people who are not phanboys.

  22. Anna Logg

    "Consumers can be surprisingly forgiving with companies that they trust."

    Indeed. TalkTalk still have customers.

    1. Lotaresco

      Talk Talk

      "TalkTalk still have customers"

      Indeed. As I pointed out at the time, anyone with a clue was running, not walking away from Talk Talk. There's a sort of inverse natural selection at work. The company is left with what they would call "a loyal customer base" and I would refer to as people who either don't care if they are ripped off/hacked or who never read the press or who can't understand what is going on unless their carer explains it to them using the medium of interpretive dance.

  23. Daz555

    I have had a few Samsung phones over the years and still rate my S3 as maybe the best smartphone I've owned..for it's time. However, the prices of the recent high end Galaxy phones has gone stupid.

    So a couple of weeks ago I bought a Oneplus 3 for 300-odd beans. I hope these guys are turning a small profit for their efforts because the phone is frankly superb.

  24. John 104

    Drama much?

    Is this bad for a company? yes. Will it bankrupt them? Hardly. They are too diversified.

    A smart move would be to throw out the Note brand name and come up with something different. Take the parts from existing phones, use them as spares and release something mid year to beat the typical Fall release cycle.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Note 7 is dead....

    ....long live the new Note 7 Extra Cool ..... in stores soon....

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Facepalm

    Samsung will survive

    Nowadays consumers have very short memories.

    I realise that products exploding, destroying property and burning folk is a very bad thing indeed, but if Samsung drop the Galaxy and Note brands - both of which were getting very dated - and come up with something equally daft, but new and brighter, people will still flock to purchase the new shiny in vast numbers. In fact Governments rely on their citizens so doing, because a happy consumer is always more pliable than a cautious saver. Right? Right.

    As Conrad Longmore writes above, the iPhone 'Antennagate' debacle - a phone that would only phone if you didn't touch it - hasn't stopped Apple one bit. Quite the opposite: it just legitimised cases, so driving sales of accessories through the roof. Steve Jobs must've been wetting himself.

    It's almost at the stage that Samsung could capitalise on this and run a marketing campaign: "Samsung, because everyone deserves a surprise tan, whatever the weather" - it'd simply go 'viral' (whatever that really means), the Daily Mail would run a campaign giving away a free Samsung phone 'to every migrant in your area' and the money would keep flowing.

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: Samsung will survive

      You started me scratching my head about suitable astronomical brand names that Samsung might adopt. Samsung Supernova, perhaps?

      1. Lotaresco

        Re: Samsung will survive

        "Samsung Supernova, perhaps?"

        Samsung Hiroshima for the small phone.

        Samsung Nagasaki for the phablet.

  27. Nifty

    Shades of the iPhone frying its WiFi chip off the board here. The other phone makers shouldn't crow too much.

  28. Peter X
    Mushroom

    Samsung PR need to think outside the box

    Samsung PR need to think outside the box; my suggestion, given that one of the "features" of the Note 7 was being water resistant is... A BUCKET. If every owner gets a bucket of water to carry their phone in, then surely that would minimise the fire risk?

    1. Andy Taylor

      Re: Samsung PR need to think outside the box

      Do you not remember your Chemistry lessons? Lithium reacts with water exothermically and produces Hydrogen gas.

  29. 45RPM Silver badge

    Time to Think Different(ly)?

    It has been said that the Note 7 shipped when it did just to steal a march on Apple. One pundit even went so far as to blame these failings on insufficient testing necessitated by the hurried release. Probably bollocks. Certainly smells like bollocks to me. But I'd venture to suggest that Samsung might benefit from stepping back and thinking differently.

    Whether you like it or not, Apple's products sell because they are different. They differentiate themselves by their design (a phone without a keyboard? A computer which can slip into an envelope and has no removable storage? A workstation which looks like a miniature dustbin? Say it ain't so!) and by running a bespoke OS rather than the same OS as their competitors.

    Perhaps Samsung could do with some of this different sauce. I'm not advocating that they build their own OS (if anything, I'd advocate that they don't fiddle around here - the radical move would be to ship a device with the OS exactly as Microsoft or Google intended it to be). Perhaps though they could try building a device which is entirely, and easily, repairable and recyclable. Perhaps the components could be interchangeable so that a degree of upgradability could be ensured. Even more radically, perhaps they could build their next devices out of recycled components.

    In any event, I argue that Samsungs best strategy isn't to be a Korean Apple. It's to be Samsung - and have the whole world envy it just for being that. So, a new niche Samsung? What's it to be?

    1. Rainer

      Re: Time to Think Different(ly)?

      People would try to repair it themselves or have some guy at a street corner try, fail at it and then ship the remains to Samsung asking for a full refund or a new one. And that's actually one of the more optimistic outcomes I can think of.

      People vastly overestimate the number of customers who want to fiddle with hardware.

      That's a niche within a niche of a product category.

      1. 45RPM Silver badge

        Re: Time to Think Different(ly)?

        @Rainer You're probably right. I didn't mean that Samsung should do those things though - I was merely suggesting things that are different. I don't know what Samsung's 'Different' should look like - just that I think it needs to stop following the pack and strike out with its own, radically original, idea. Get everyone copying it for a change.

  30. unwarranted triumphalism

    Apple's fault

    I see El Reg is now trapped in the Reality Distortion Field created by Steve Jobs.

  31. spold Bronze badge

    who will benefit?

    Umm Huawei. Where did the battery tech come from - betting nearer to Shenzhen than South Korea... just saying, been there.

  32. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

    The exploding batteries are a problem, but generally, problems get solved if people are interested in solving them. It'll hurt Samsung, but I don't think it'll be their undoing.

  33. Martin Summers Silver badge

    People jump on failure like vultures these days and revel in it. Nobody gives sympathy in this quite often nasty cynical world these days. I won't abandon Samsung. I have an S7 and it's one of the best phones I've owned. I will continue to buy their phones while they keep making them worth buying.

    I'm amazed the Note 7 has crashed and burned to the point where they've killed it. This is an unprecedented situation and someone else in the comments on another of the Samsung stories suggested industrial sabotage might be at play. I'm inclined to believe that this is possible these days. It isn't beyond the realm of possibility for a nation state to do something like this to look after their own manufacturers interests.

    1. psychonaut

      anybody got any idea what phone i should get now?

      needs...big screen, removable battery. sd slot. water proof / resistant would be nice. big battery.

      doesnt seem to be much out there.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Samsung sabotages itself with its internal company culture which is dysfunctional. I posted a link above to another forum, if you check out other posts by the same poster you'll be amazed it's taken this long for their mobiles to go up in smoke. It certainly explains why their software is crap.

  34. Rainer

    Interestingly

    Apple has so far only ship relatively smaller batteries in their phones.

    The battery in the iPhone 7 Plus is 2900 mAh, that of the Note 7 is/was 3500 mAh.

    Also, they are only doing very small chances every year, no radical redesign every year.

    Maybe they know something that Samsung doesn't?

    But I remember reading an interview with one of the Vice Presidents a few years ago where he claimed the "battery chemistry is incredibly complicated".

    Also these people are fully aware of the fact that while one mishap would not end it all, it would be a serious event. Fanbois and shareholders (often the same people) would line up with pickets, pitchforks and maybe baseball-bats at 1 Infinite Loop...

  35. Peter Clarke 1
    Alert

    New Employers

    Those ex-VW engineers came with glowing references. Maybe they shouldn't have been in charge of the testing

  36. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    "...cause a contagion."

    Imagine the repercussions if the airline industry, or their regulators, decide that gadgets with consumer grade lithium batteries are just too dangerous to be permitted on board.

    No travelling by air with your phone, laptop, etc.

    ...Just let that thought percolate for a while...

    (Anticipating the obvious: All reasonable folks would consider that to be a nightmare. If it appeals to you, then you're a nutter.)

    So yes, having phones bursting into flames left, right and center may have some extremely significant after effects.

    It must be discouraged.

    A -$17B reminder is very useful in this regard.

  37. Andre Jolivet

    Smartphone illiterates ?

    What kind of parallel universe are we living in on this forum ? The author only mentions Oneplus as a "generic" and the is no word about Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi, Leeco and others, which are massive Chinese brands shipping remarkable phones in huge volumes in the chinese market. Of course they are not spending 10 billions in brand awareness, and that is probably the reason why the 400$ Xiaomi Mi5 Pro has the quality of a 800$ Samsung or Apple phone. You can find these phones on internet market places like aliexpress.com coolicool.com and many others. Look at the recent OnePlus 3 (the 1 has been a success, the 2 a flop). What a gorgeous phone. I have it in my collection of smartphones. Forget about Samsung or Apple, 800$ is the price for a laptop, not for a phone. Buy one of these phones directly from China. I have been doing so for the last years and very happy with this decision.

    1. Rainer

      Re: Smartphone illiterates ?

      The reason they aren't really sold in Europe (and the US, IIRC) is that the companies may not have licensed all the patents.

      Nobody is going after them in China - but if you officially want to do business in the EU, you have to have a company somewhere in the EU.

      So, if a patent violation was found, obviously that EU company would be liable for the damages.

      AFAIK, it's no longer possible (WTO, WIPO etc.pp.) to just let that company go belly-up and take all the profit with you - international courts (which China recognizes) would take those law-suits to China.

      Also, as another El-Reg article mentioned - international distribution is complicated and actually expensive (warranties, RMAs - basically ignored for exports to Europe).

      I'm not saying it's not a good phone - but there's a reason it's not in any normal store here.

      Same with the Xiaomi MacBook Air "killer" - it's confiscated at customs because it doesn't have a EU-compliant power-supply.

    2. YetAnotherLocksmith

      Re: "...cause a contagion."

      Well, there's a lot to be said for being able to blow up a person remotely by a simple tweak to their firmware. Because that's what this is - a tweak to the firmware maximum charge voltage value. Simply set it at 4.5V and you can be fairly sure that after most of a night on charge it'll burst into flame.

  38. Richard Cranium

    Is there a wider problem with LIION tech? Remember the Dreamliner battery fire debacle.

    Or is the problem with the accountants "if we can save 5 cents on each battery by the time we've sold 20 million we''ll be a millions dollar up". Or once again the accountants - expected battery lifetime is 3 years "we want users to buy new not just swap in a new battery after 3 years". My Nexus 5 is about to hit its 3rd birthday... I vote for replaceable batteries so I can carry a spare when travelling like my ancient Nokia.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Is it the battery at fault?

      Surely these batteries are a commodity item and the same in loads of phones? Could the problem be excessive power consumption like a short on the PCB or cabling or even a piece of code running away with power consumption. I find my phone can get very hot very quickly when I use it with some apps (e.g. Google Cardboard).

  39. cortland

    Flaming 'phone frenzy follows?

    If the problem is BATTERIES, expect more flaming phone frenzies to follow.

  40. The Boojum

    Damn. That was going to be my next phone

    Ah well. It looks like I'll have to keep nursing my ageing S5 along for a while yet! Replacement screen that won't stick to the body, the disaster that was the Marshmallow update (battery life measured in minutes, random crashes, intermittent performance that would rate a snail as an Olympic sprinter!)

    Remind me why I'm still considering Samsung?

  41. mark jacobs
    Big Brother

    My son has the Huawei P9 and that is a lovely phone, reliable, hard-wearing, fast, best dual Leica camera in the world ... Huawei could easily take on Samsung's business.

    1. Lotaresco

      There's no doubt that the Huawei is a nice phone. However it does have its weaknesses. The sound quality on headphones is poor and that appears to be due to the use of a cheap DAC. Users have reported that using an external DAC dramatically improve sound quality but this means spending an extra £100 all the way up to £1000 for an external DAC/Headphone amplifier. Which makes other phones look a bargain by comparison.

      Also the "Leica" cameras are mostly a branding exercise since Leica appear to have provided design input but not the components.

  42. EJ
    Go

    In a perfect world...

    ... there'd exist a video where a dude riding a hoverboard while using his Note 7 has both catch on fire at once. That needs to happen.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why a hit?

    Simply use all the Note 7s for Antarctic exploration.

    Either way we'll see them in Wilko in packs of 6 as firelighters next summer.

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