NEW YORK (CBS SF/AP) — Beleaguered Samsung told owners of original and replacement Galaxy Note 7 smartphones to power off and turn them in.
The company announced it was halting sales of the phone after a spate of fires involving new devices that were supposed to be safe replacements for recalled models. Consumers with original Note 7 devices or replacements they obtained after the recall should turn off the power and seek a refund or exchange them for different phones.
For several days, Samsung customers were left to wonder what to do after stories about the replacement phones catching fire began to surface.
U.S. regulators first ordered a recall of the original Note 7, a huge phone-bordering-on-tablet with a huge battery, in late September after the devices demonstrated the unwelcome tendency to catch fire.
Monday’s announcement confirms a previous report by South Korea’s Yonhap news agency that it had suspended production of the combustible phones. Samsung said it was investigating the recent fires, while working with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
A commission spokesman said Monday that his agency is investigating five new incidents since the recall was announced.
“No one should have to be concerned their phone will endanger them, their family or their property,” said Elliot Kaye, chairman of the safety commission, in a statement. He called Samsung’s decision to suspend all sales “the right move” in light of “ongoing safety concerns.”
Analysts say the new problems pose a crisis for the South Korean tech giant, which is locked in fierce competition with Apple and other leading smartphone makers.
“This has been a real black eye on the product,” said Ben Bajarin, a consumer tech industry analyst with the Creative Strategies firm.
The new reports also raise questions about the cause of the problem. Samsung has blamed batteries provided by a particular supplier, while assuring consumers that the phone was otherwise safe. It said it solved the problem by switching to batteries from another supplier.
The four major U.S. mobile carriers, meanwhile, have all suspended trade-ins for the replacement phones; so have major retailers such as Best Buy. Instead, these companies are offering to swap Note 7s out for any other smartphone of the customer’s choice.
Besides getting a full a refund, here’s a look at two obvious options for Note 7 owners.
SWAP FOR A DIFFERENT SAMSUNG PHONE
Samsung’s equivalent phones are mostly, well, old. If you just dropped several hundred dollars on the latest Samsung device, do you really want to trade it for last year’s model?
One option is Samsung’s Galaxy S smartphone, which is slightly smaller and cheaper than the Note. While it has many of the same features of the Note, it lacks a stylus and the Note 7’s iris scanner. The phone also came out in March, which might render it perilously close to middle-aged where cutting-edge types are concerned.
An older version of the Note is also an option, though also a disappointing one, given that the Note 5 (there was no Note 6) launched more than a year ago. Many Note 7 owners may already own one, or recently traded theirs in to get the Note 7.
SWAP FOR A PHONE MADE BY SOMEONE ELSE
Google’s new Pixel phones are coming out later this month, while LG and HTC also have large Android smartphones of varying ages on the market.
Apple’s iPhone 7 also recently launched, and has been fairly well received even though it no longer features the standard headphone jack. That means Note 7 owners would need adapters for their old earbuds; they might also find it jarring to switch from an Android phone to the iPhone.
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