Galaxy Note 7's loss is iPhone's gain, says CNET poll

Almost 50 percent of CNET readers said they'll ditch the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 due to a battery flaw that may cause it to catch fire. But another 40 percent said they'll stick around.

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3 min read
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We knew that Samsung would take a hit once reports of a battery flaw in the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phone forced the company to recall the model. And a pair of new Twitter polls by CNET show that Samsung's loss may well be Apple's gain.

To recap: The Galaxy Note 7 was released to widespread acclaim on August 19. But soon after its release, reports of fires while charging the phone began cropping up online. Samsung quickly determined that a flaw in some phones resulted in the battery's anode and cathode touching, with explosive results.

Watch this: Samsung recalls Galaxy Note 7 phones

The company initiated an immediate recall, while maintaining that only a fraction of the estimated 2.5 million handsets sold so far are afflicted. But the US federal government has stepped up enforcement, effectively banning use and charging of the phone on airlines and urging owners to power them down and exchange them immediately. But what we still don't know is how many Note 7 owners will stick with Samsung and how many will rush to Apple.

So we asked you guys on Twitter. Three times. First, it was with an informal tweet that encouraged Note 7 owners to respond individually with their plans. Then, we ran a poll from CNET's official Twitter account, twice. Although we can't be certain how many people responded to both polls, the number of respondents and the breakdown of their answers is remarkably similar. (Poll 1. Poll 2.)

Here's one key takeaway: Not as many Note 7 owners are planning to flee Samsung as you might think.

Out of a total of 3,329 survey respondents, 9.5 percent said they'd keep their current Note 7 without exchanging it. (For the record, we -- and Samsung, and the feds -- recommend exchanging your unit rather than keeping it. Here's how.) 30.5 percent said they'll swap their Note 7 for a new one as part of the exchange program Samsung developed with retailers in response to the incident.

Meanwhile, almost half (48.5 percent) said they'd switch to an iPhone model and 11.5 percent said they'd rather use a different phone.

iPhone swoops in

Enlarge Image

The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are going to lure disgruntled Note 7 owners.

James Martin/CNET

For Samsung, the timing couldn't be worse. The company needed an early sales win to keep up momentum after seeing profits rise with spring's successful Galaxy S7. Strong Note 7 sales would also help tamp down competition with Apple's iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, and LG's high-end, large-screen V20. Plus, Google's next-generation Nexus phone, rumored to be called the Google Pixel, is right around the corner.

Even if the rest of the world models the respondents in CNET's poll, and nearly 50 percent of Note 7 owners wind up standing by Samsung globally (some retailers will offer a small credit to customers who switch to a Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge), that means Samsung would still lose half its potential sales to Apple.

We'll have a better idea of the impact of Samsung's battery blowup when the company's quarterly results come in, but ripples of the incident -- in the form of decreased loyalty and profits -- could last for years.