Only 13 percent of Samsung Note 7s sold in US have been exchanged

A Samsung executive says 130,000 Note 7 devices have been replaced so far in the US, but that's much less than the 1 million that have been recalled in the country.

Shara Tibken Former managing editor
Shara Tibken was a managing editor at CNET News, overseeing a team covering tech policy, EU tech, mobile and the digital divide. She previously covered mobile as a senior reporter at CNET and also wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. Shara is a native Midwesterner who still prefers "pop" over "soda."
Shara Tibken
3 min read

Samsung has been warning Galaxy Note 7 users for a couple weeks to exchange their potentially explosive devices, but so far, only a small percentage has responded.

Tim Baxter, president and chief operating officer of Samsung Electronics America, said in a video on Thursday that only 130,000 people in the US have exchanged their Note 7 units for other devices. That's out of 1 million phones that have been recalled in the country.

The low percentage -- about 13 percent -- is likely because Samsung didn't have replacement Note 7 devices in stores until now. Instead, customers had to choose a Galaxy S7, S7 Edge or return the device altogether. Samsung on Thursday said new Note 7 replacement devices will be available in the US at most retail locations no later than September 21.

"To those of you who love the Note, the most loyal customers in our Samsung family: We appreciate your passion and your patience," Baxter said in the video. "We take seriously our responsibility to address your concerns about safety. And we will work, every day, to earn back your trust."

The update came as the US Consumer Product Safety Commission on Thursday issued an official recall for all Note 7 phones sold in the country before September 15. The group said "consumers should immediately stop using and power down the recalled Galaxy Note 7 devices" and contact the location where they purchased the devices to either get a new Note 7, a refund or a replacement device. The CPSC's notice makes it illegal to attempt to sell or resell one of the recalled Note 7 phones.

Samsung launched its Galaxy Note 7 phablet in late August to much fanfare and overall favorable reviews, but users quickly noticed some problems with the device. Specifically, a "battery cell issue" caused some Notes to overheat and start fires. Airlines have banned customers from using them on flights.

Samsung's efforts to replace the Note 7 in the US had been stalled, waiting for the CPSC to come to the decision to recall the device.

Samsung has received 92 reports of the batteries overheating in the US, including 26 reports of burns and 55 reports of property damage, including fires in cars and a garage, the CPSC said.

Watch this: Samsung explains what went wrong with exploding Note 7 battery

After 35 reported incidents of overheating smartphones worldwide, Samsung made the unprecedented decision on September 2 to recall every single one of the Galaxy Note 7 smartphones sold. That's 1 million of the 2.5 million that were manufactured. The company stopped all sales and shipments of the Note 7 and said it was working with government agencies and cellular carriers around the world to provide refunds and exchanges for the phone.

Still, Samsung has been criticized for how it initially handled the issue. While it's been pushing a global recall of its own, many people have kept using their phones anyway. Some have been injured when the phone caught on fire. The CPSC decision makes the recall more formal.

Now that people will be able to get a replacement immediately in a store, it's likely Note 7 owners will replace their devices more quickly, said Gartner analyst Tuong Nguyen.

"When my car breaks down, they give me a loaner because I can't be without my car," he said. "You can argue the phone might be even more important. ... People can't imagine going hours, let alone days or weeks without a device."