Technology: The Curious Case of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 - An Editorial.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 has been a hot topic (no pun intended) since the devices started being reported to be exploding shortly after the phone was released to the public.  It has been a recurring topic on episodes of Wednesday Night Asked due to the fact both myself and The Crust happened to have the phone. However, there's a lot I have to question about this situation, not because I am a Samsung apologist; brand loyalty only goes so far with me and if another company produces a product I like more, I tend to jump ship, but because there is a lot that doesn't add up.

For starters, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 initially had reports of explosion, leading to Samsung responding with an unprecedented global recall of the phone.  This was a billion dollar recall that did some serious hurting to Samsung's bottom line, and also caused a lot of tarnishing of the brand.  Jokes and memes began to show up everywhere, many of which using Two-Face from Batman or Gustavo, the Breaking Bad villain who got blown up.  Parody videos began to emerge everywhere comparing the phones to a tool of the radical Islamic terrorist organization, ISIS:

But possibly the most hilarious to come as a joke at the expense of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7's combustible elements was the fact that programmers and modders decided to make exploding Galaxy Note 7 devices appear in the popular videogame, Grand Theft Auto V. A video which offended Samsung so much they actually tried to file a copyright claim to have it pulled from the Internet. 

Although there have been a ton of jokes regarding the device, the situation itself when it boils down to it really is no laughing matter.  Unfortunately threats to public safety have to be taken seriously and the phone was banned from all domestic and commercial flights in the United States and various other countries throughout the world due to the risks involved.  But even if your phone didn't explode, having to go through the recall process was an inconvenient waste of time and energy for many consumers, myself included as an owner of the device.

The problem with that?  It wasn't long before reports of the replacement batch of Note 7 devices started to explode as well.  This led to Samsung doing a complete and utter discontinuation of what was, at the time of it's release the most powerful smartphone on the market.  Finger-wagging at Samsung happened, with the blame being poor quality assurance testing before the phone came to release - a rush job caused by trying to beat their competitor and nemesis in the cellular market, Apple, to the release of the iPhone 7.  To be fair the criticism is justified and Samsung may have made serious design mistakes, and while Samsung cannot seem to replicate exactly what it is that is causing the Galaxy Note 7 devices to explode, my speculation is that the fault in the design has something to do with the fact this was Samsung's first phone to utilize USB type C as a charging option.  But what do I know?  I'm not a phone designer.

But what I am is a guy who has to ask questions.  We live in an age of absolute hysteria.  And while the Note 7 was deemed a danger, neither my original nor my replacement gave me too much cause for concern - in my personal life and professional life I have to be on my cellular phone constantly.  I also have to charge in constantly.  I even use the device to play music through my car's audio system and tend to let it charge pretty much all day.  

My point is if the defect was a 100% one, mine would have been one of the first to explode.  Both times.  I am not defending Samsung when I question how the mistake happened a second time with the re-issue of the phone, and being that they can't seem to replicate the problem I pose the question:  Are we absolutely sure that people aren't full of crap?  We live in an age of hysteria and viral posting, and "viral" is such an appropriate word because what's posted most times is toxic, virulent and skewed without fact.  We've seen it during the United States election process.  We see it with many, many sites posting opinions and passing them off as factual journalism, and while my co-hosts tend to think I am insane for my tendency to question and wonder, I can't help but wonder if corporate sabotage is a factor - not with the first batch - that's definitely Samsung's mistake.  But the second batch?  A company the size of Samsung screwing up the phone a second time, with billions and billions of dollars on the line?  I don't really find that scenario likely or sensible in any way and I have to question whether or not the people with exploding Samsung re-issue phones had even been legitimate.

I'm not going to lie here, I simply DON'T like Apple products - I never have, and probably never will.  I hated running Macs in middle and high school, too.  I don't like iOS, I don't like anything about the phones - and I especially don't like the pretentious "holier than thou" attitude of the type of person who swears by Apple products.  The smugness is admittedly a giant turn off.  But even with my dislike of Apple, it was apparent the iPhone 7 wasn't met with the open arms of Apple's other products due to the fact that Apple decided not only to remove native support for a headphone jack in the phone, but then to further market it as if they had done you some kind of favor by doing so.  The problem is a lot of the smug Apple users are the same people who have become "journalists" on the Internet.  I can't help but think if you have money and resources and your biggest competitor makes a giant "oops" like a phone that blows up, it's pretty easy to pay people a few thousand to say their phones blew up, create some media hysteria and issue a complete death blow to the opposition, especially when the opposition's phone happens to not only have better stats than yours, but also happens to still have a fucking headphone jack.  Even if I didn't have my theories about possible corporate sabotage, let's face it.  America is a country where we have a lot of idiots running around doing stupid shit.  On the 4th of July there's always some asshole every year that blows his own hand off into a nub because they decided to hold a live firework in his (or her, stupidity isn't sexually exclusive, ladies), hand and let it go off and explode.  How do we know we don't have some moron trying to charge his phone with jumper cables running around?  Out of millions of units sold, there would have been a lot more reports of explosions.  But again - hysterics and hyperbole are the tools of the modern Internet media and with so much bad press, Samsung had no choice but to call time of death on their flagship phone.

Unfortunately the full recall of the Galaxy Note 7 was mandatory when the major carriers all vowed to drop support and when the government decided they were a banned device on all aircraft and that even attempting to bring one on board might cause you to end up detained in Guantanamo Bay.  If you wanted to stick to a Samsung phone you had no choice but to really switch to the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, a phone, that isn't bad, but isn't a Note 7 either.  Not only do I find myself instinctively wanting to use my S-PEN, but I also have the problem of that the screen is either ridiculously oversensitive, or doesn't reply at all because my giant hands keep brushing the edges of the phone (when you touch the phone's edge it seems to not acknowledge you pressing anywhere ELSE on the device).  It's a marriage of convenience, or in this case inconvenience.  Still my inconveniences pale in comparison to the ones my co-host, The Crust has documented on Asked over the past two months in dealing directly with Samsung USA (due to necessity from opting not to purchase his device through a major carrier) and bad customer service.  Regardless, here I am with my Galaxy S7 Edge when lo-and-behold we start getting reports of the S7 Edge exploding too.  And this is where my mind doesn't just "believe" the bullshit on the Internet.  This is not a brand new phone like the Note 7.  This phone has been out for six months, and if it was a danger we would have known from the start.  So... is this really a Samsung issue?  Or is it now that we're just going to ASSUME that every Samsung phone explodes due to defects?  Sadly for most of the unwashed masses, it is the later.  As long as another company stands to gain from Samsung's woes, I am pretty sure we will keep hearing about explosions, despite the fact ANY device with a battery can explode - even the beloved iPhone

My point is this:  Your phone exploding?  You have about the same chance as being struck by lightning or winning the lottery.  You have as much chance of stepping out onto the street and a runaway car running you over.  Life is dangerous.  Things are dangerous.  Was the recall the right move?  Who knows?  Samsung is probably going to bury those phones in Nevada next to all those copies of E.T. on Atari - then again being a Korean company maybe they'll ship all of their Note 7s to Kim Jong Un's house.  Who really knows?  I didn't worry about the Note 7 exploding and only returned it when hysteria of the masses forced my hand.  I'm not going to worry about the S7 Edge exploding, because there's an old saying that sums up phones, life and everything else:  "Shit happens."

But what I will hope for is that the very lucrative offer Samsung has offered in their home country of South Korea comes to the United States as well.  This program means that if you were a Note 7 user, stuck with the Edge 7, and make it through to the release of the Note 8, the Note 8 will be free.  Bring that to the states and I will consider your apology accepted, Samsung.  Let's see if I make it to that release without "exploding."  Although, again, I'm pretty confident that I will because "I ain't afraid of no phone."