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Unpopular Smartphones: the Samsung Galaxy Note 7

By Devin Logan on 2017-01-11

The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 featured great new technology, but unsolved battery issues led to the recall and demise of this unpopular smartphone.


  Released in August of last year, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 got great reviews based on its superior construction and new features. However, it has recently become one of the most unpopular smartphones in the United States (and other countries), leading to multiple recalls and massive bans on its use.
 
The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 featured iris recognition capabilities. Iris recognition is a complex technology that uses what is called “near-infrared illumination.” Near-infrared illumination uses night vision technology to make visible fuzzy and moving images—in short, it helps the smartphone’s video camera record complex details of a user’s iris. Irises contain patterns that are unique, stable, and resistant to misidentification, making them the optimal lock for a smartphone. In addition to the Note 7, the Microsoft 950 XL and the Fujitsu NX F-04G, along with other current and upcoming smartphones, feature this technology. The fingerprint lock, released in a Toshiba phone in 2007 and eventually in the Apple iPhone 5S in 2013, may face a viable competitor in iris recognition locks. The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 was one of the early adopters of this trend.

In addition to its iris recognition capabilities, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 received much praise for its high dynamic range color support. HDR video gives great contrast between blacks and whites, while also increasing color quality. This is a great feature in itself, but the smartphone user needs to have access to optimized video content in order to take full advantage of this technology. At the time of its release, Amazon Prime was the only such content provider for the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, which limited the functionality of this feature.

The Note 7 also featured a USB-C port, which is not yet in wide use among comparable smartphones—though such phones as the Nexus 6P (Google) and the Lumia 950 (Microsoft) do have this feature. The USB-C is faster, smaller, and more powerful than older USB connectors. It is also more versatile—there is more than one way to plug it in.
 
However, for all of its great, innovative features, the Galaxy Note 7 is now all but dead. Note 7 users started reporting battery fires in September of 2016, less than a month after its release. Samsung originally offered users replacement phones, but some consumers reported the same issues with these replacements, proving that the malfunctions were more than chance. Samsung stopped selling the product in October, and issued a formal recall. In early November, the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission issued an additional recall. Many airlines banned the phone on flights after these recalls, and the Federal Aviation Administration eventually issued a blanket ban on the smartphones. Consumers are able to get refunds or replacement devices (though they are not able to get new Note 7 phones).
 
The Note 7 combustions actually only occurred in a small percentage of the smartphones. It is unclear what actually caused these fires and failures, but Samsung is in the process of investigating the recalled phones. Samsung still plans to release the Galaxy Note 8, the heir apparent of the disastrous Note 7, later in 2017. Rumored features of this to-be-release product include iris recognition, a USB-C port, and a large display. In short, it will be a (hopefully) safer version of the Note 7.
 
The unpopularity of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 stems from its very real problems and dangers, and that unpopularity will eventually descend into extinction. Though some consumers still have not taken advantage of the recall and replacement programs, it is illegal to sell recalled phones: the few rogue Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones will soon wither—or burn—away.

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