Samsung is deep into the process of shipping out replacement Note 7 handsets to those affected by the battery fault recall. Despite doing a reasonably good job of managing the recall, offering loan handsets, replacement devices or refunds there is one glaring issue that Samsung hasn’t properly addressed: how do I identify a ‘good’ Note 7 from a bad one?
Samsung’s guidance is that new ‘safe’ handsets will have marked boxes (not useful if the box isn’t with the device) and sport a green battery icon in three places in the device software, indicating the battery is good and you can treat the device as any other handset.
Android being what it is though, I don’t believe that’s even close to good enough.
Replacement ROMs, software skins, even root enabled hacks offer the unscrupulous an opportunity to pass a faulty Note 7 off as a good one, just by changing through items on the device. Given that the faulty handsets are likely to be worthless and remediated ones quite valuable on the second-hand market – even with the reputational hit this recall has caused – there seems to be an easy line between procuring the faulty handset and turning it on at a profit.
Samsung needs to provide a better, more secure method of identifying safe devices. Given that it has a secure store tool on the device for storing fingerprint and payment information surely there must be some way of leveraging that feature to provide a more credible indicator of device safety?
As it stands today I would suggest that the purchase of a second-hand Note 7 sometime in the future would be a very risky transaction. If many others feel the same the residual value of the Note 7 will take a serious hit, making the purchase of a new Note 7 a much worse deal than otherwise.
If you are thinking of buying a Note 7 (and it remains the best all round phone on the market today so why wouldn’t you?) then I would strongly suggest you leverage either your carrier or Samsung’s trade-up deal to fix your residual value up front and ensure that there are no nasty surprises when it comes to replacement.