The Samsung Note 7 recall could have been avoided had it featured a replaceable battery

If Samsung had to stick to removable batteries on the Galaxy Note 7, it would not have to worry so much about the scenario it faces today.

While some have banned this as a threat, others have laid down the rules stating that it should be powered down and definitely not stored in check-in luggage during a flight. No, I am not talking about a portable power bank, I am talking about the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, which is probably Samsung's best phablet offering yet. And it is pretty much that, provided Samsung had tested the Galaxy Note 7 for a wee bit longer.

With the LG V20 to be launched soon, it was evident Samsung had to rush its product to market before Apple and LG introduced their flagship devices. Apple recently launched its "best iPhone 7" and LG just last week announced its V20 flagship for video and audio buffs. Samsung announced its Galaxy Note 7 on 2 August so that it could get a head start but somehow seems to have skipped on extended testing that has resulted in the massacre of the Note 7 we see in multiple news publications today.

After about 24 cases of the Note 7 catching fire, Samsung finally released a statement stating that it has halted sales and that it was going in for a rather expensive worldwide recall of all of its handsets. A report from Bloomberg stated that Samsung would be spending around $1 billion to complete the recall of about 2.5 million smartphones that have either been shipped to users (and are using them already) or those that were on the way to customers who pre-ordered the device. And I am pretty sure this number does not even come close to how much the brand's reputation has taken a hit after this.

One tiny mistake, a quality check, has now branded a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 as a threat on flights, burned down a man's SUV and even someone's room, indeed there's plenty more to come.

A replaceable battery could have the day

So as I sat down to analyse the whole situation, it struck me as to how a simple replaceable battery on the Galaxy Note 7 could have helped Samsung spend less on a recall. My cousin uses the Galaxy Note 3 and he skipped on the Note 5 simply because it did not come with a user replaceable battery. With his Note 3 now ageing, it was time to move on and our first impressions with the Note 7 certainly turned out to be a positive one. So he finally gave in and decided to pre-book a Note 7 despite the fact that it had a non removable battery (times are changing and I suggested that he should move on). And then news about Samsung Note 7 devices exploding surfaces online. Totally disappointing!

If Samsung had to stick to removable batteries on the Galaxy Note 7, it would not have to worry so much about the scenario it faces today. Samsung could have simply shipped the new battery cells to its customers and the Note 7 would not be branded as "threat" as it is right now.

More importantly, with such a polished smartphone, Samsung would not have customers losing faith in its brand. Customers who had placed a pre-order back in August will have a long wait as Samsung has not given a date as to when it will start shipping those Note 7 devices with replaced batteries!

Why not a replaceable battery?

In the quest to make smartphones waterproof and dust resistant, smartphone manufacturers are indeed reducing the number of cavities and gaps on a smartphone (Apple even went with a static home button and killed the 3.5mm headphone jack). One of the more obvious solutions is to replace the large removable back cover (that lets you access the SIM card, microSD slot and the battery cell) with a sealed solution and tiny SIM trays.

But that is not the reason why manufacturers went in for a removable battery. As CNET's Jessica Dolcourt pointed out in an article dated February 2012, the objective was a slimmer design that was seamless and delivered a better, more rigid body. The same was revealed in an interview with Jerry Hart, Nokia's senior product manager of Windows Phone with the Lumia 800's polycarbonate body in focus.

Things get better (for LG and Apple that is)

All of that hard work and effort put in by Samsung to get a head start are now in vain. And things only get worse since Samsung's flagship Note 7 smartphones are headed back to service centers and manufacturing plants, while Apple iPhone 7 and 7 Plus and the LG V20 are on their way to their customers. Samsung's Note fans will indeed wait (as it is still a beautiful Android smartphone) but what about those new buyers who were looking up to switch from a iPhone 6s Plus or an LG V10 this year?

Well, Apple has a slick Jet Black monster that comes with up to 256GB of storage, dual 12MP cameras on the back and a IP 67 water and dust resistance rating in the form of the iPhone 7 Plus.

LG has the V20 with B&O audio chops, dual cameras and a removable battery. LG India, there could not be a better time than now to launch your smartphone in India! What makes things better (worse for Samsung) is the cherry on the cake, Android 7.0 Nougat. The V20  is also the world's first smartphone to feature the updated version of Android out of the box!

A lasting impression

Even once the new devices with fresh new (non-exploding) batteries start shipping, the Note 7 users will almost seem like terrorists on flights and public places with a phone that was once termed "capable of exploding".

It almost seems like a stigma that Samsung will never be able to get rid off during the life time of the device, even though we think (with our initial impressions) that this could be the best Android smartphone till date. There are thousands of memes out there that mock the Note 7, something that is well beyond than what Samsung can handle as damage control.

So the next time your on a dinner date, just don't pull out your Note 7!

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