Before you call me out and shame me with tweets stating, an hour’s rain does not warrant calling off the schools for a rainy day, there is more to it than the sudden explosion of stories all over the world about the latest flagship malfunctioning. The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 has become bit of a WMD, having already been banned from several airline carriers and public places and there is definitely more to come on this one. Samsung has already made a loss in billions of dollars on recalls and replacements, not to forget the bad publicity.
When the device was announced, on paper the Galaxy Note 7 looked like the perfect blue-eyed boy that the Android enthusiasts could flaunt as Apple looked to announce the iPhone 7. Samsung did everything in power to get the device out and in hands of the people before the limelight inevitably felt on the greatest phone that Apple has ever made. But the decision back fired (puns anyone?) due to poor QC and here we are today. This lead me to believe, is this the right time for the Note series to retire and for Samsung to explore pastures new? Second year in the running (with the Note 7 and with the Note 5 previously), you a feeling that the Note lineup has been inspired by the Galaxy flagship device rather than the other way round.
Back in the day when the first Galaxy Note came out, the Note series was the one where you would see the best of Samsung. From the latest Android update, to features to design, it was the poster boy of Samsung smartphones. You looked forward to a Note series flagship if you wanted to see the best of Samsung but that has kind of evaporated in thin air for the last couple of years, take an example of the Note Edge, where the first Edge display came out. Right since Samsung came out with a redesigned S6 and the inception of the Dual Edged displays on the S6 Edge, the Galaxy Note lineup has been a bit of a foster son. So the Note series, even before the fiasco was living in the shadows.
With several back papers now filled with stories of a new Note 7 device exploding the negative PR around the device is going to be extremely difficult for Samsung to digest, quash and undo the damage. How do you bring the trust back into the users that the phone is indeed safe to use after being say replaced and a new battery manufacturer on board? Take the example of Apple. Even post the antennae-gate and the whole bend-gate fiasco, which by the way were not hazardous to the user, it took ages to get the trust back, to the point, people are still skeptical of using the larger iPhone thinking that it would bend. From the same line of thoughts, the Note 7 may actually be a write-off, with some spill over on the Note 8 too.
Add to the negative PR is the relevance of the Note series in itself. When the Note series came out, smartphones were still in their nappies. The screen sizes on an average were still about 3.5 to about 4 inches and it made sense to have a dedicated series for phones that were not a norm, the ‘Phablets’. However, today, virtually every flagship that is launched, features a screen that is around the 5.5-inch mark. We have welcomed and gotten accustomed to phablets as a rule rather than an exception. So, who is to say Samsung could not just include the Note device as a part of the portfolio of the Galaxy series phones. In fact, with the S6, there was the S6 Edge Plus, which was every bit a Note device sans the stylus. Throw the stylus in, and you are looking at say the S8, the S8 Edge and the S8 Edge Plus, it makes a lot of sense as then you are looking at maintaining one flagship line, a refresh period of one year and gives the brand loyalists a good feeling that their device is going to stay good for a longer term than it has currently.
Samsung may want to correct the wrongs of the Note 7 and keep the series. Or maybe deliver another hit and retire, but beyond a couple of years, unless Samsung has very clear directions for the Note series, we cannot help but think that the parallel lines that the Galaxy Series and Note series, that once were, are about to meet. They have come ever so close already that perhaps it’s time to kiss and make up, and perhaps, become one and let the legacy of the Note live on in its glory, because after all, the way smartphones are today, owe a lot to the Adam and Eve that the Note 1 was.