Why Filipinos might still opt for a ‘safe’ Samsung Galaxy Note 7

In Business, Phonesby Alora Uy GuerreroLeave a Comment

IT was like a scene from a horror movie for tech enthusiasts. Every few hours starting end of August, we heard of a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 exploding until finally, the world’s largest smartphone vendor announced a global recall of its new flagship mobile device. Billions of dollars got wiped off the company’s market value; tech shares in other firms were sold to raise cash; Note 7s were banned from flights; recall processes got bungled, particularly in the U.S.; the arch-rival’s iPhone 7 and 7 Plus were launched… It was as if Samsung couldn’t catch a lucky break.

Fortunately for the Korean manufacturer, about 90 percent of Galaxy Note 7 owners opted to get a new Note 7 as of September 27. As Samsung starts its own replacement program in the Philippines, will we see a different pattern? Will most Filipinos stick with the device, or will they choose another phone from Samsung — or worse, another brand?

At the first day of Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 replacement program at SM Megamall

At the first day of Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 replacement program at SM Megamall

Barring a “new round of explosions” of replacement Note 7s, our money is on people sticking with it.

A 2015 report by international consulting-firm Integration showed that owners of Samsung Electronics Philippines’ high-end smartphones are more loyal than other brands’ customers. As far as we know, not a single case of Galaxy Note 7 catching fire over battery issues has been reported in the country thus far. If people who have high brand loyalty haven’t experienced a phone exploding in their hands, why switch to another brand?

If people who have high brand loyalty haven’t experienced a phone exploding in their hands, why switch to another brand?

The only major inconvenience one could face is in the waiting part, and most often, the customer who has to wait longer is someone who got the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 from Globe Telecom or Smart Communications. Check social media, and you’ll know what we mean.

Samsung marketing director Chad Sotelo told us the inventory of the telcos is different from that of the retailers. That’s why when Samsung announced the replacement process weeks ago, the company specifically said that Note 7 users who had bought their device from a Philippine carrier must contact Globe or Smart directly.

We believe the probability of this happening is low. Two years ago, we purchased a smartphone from Smart at SM Aura. It turned out to be a lemon; we were able to use it for only an hour before it went kaput on us. Even if the option then was to wait for three weeks for either a new or repaired unit (it would come from Singapore), never did it cross our mind to exchange it with an older model.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 7’s closest competition in the tech giant’s lineup is the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge. The two share a lot of features — same processor, same rear and front cameras, and same amount of RAM, among others. But the Note 7 is more refined. The user interface is cleaner and more streamlined; the curve of the edges is smoother, making the phone easier to hold and less prone to accidental presses. And we haven’t even talked about features like the iris scanner yet. Why replace the latest model with an unrefined version that was launched seven months ago?

The Samsung Galaxy Note 7’s closest competition in the tech giant’s lineup is the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge. But why replace the latest model with an unrefined version that was launched seven months ago?

And besides, chances are many people bought a Note because of one thing that Samsung’s other Galaxy phone lines don’t have, the S-Pen. For them, the lack of an S-Pen may not be an option.

Yes, there will be customers who will seriously think of getting a device from another brand instead. So what’s out there?

Huawei has the P9 and P9 Plus, but those are not the Chinese company’s flagship smartphones; the Huawei Mate 9 is, and it has not even debuted yet. It’s expected to launch November 9, but we don’t know when it’s going to be available in the Philippines. Probably next year — and next year is too late.

ASUS ZenFone? Come on, its transition from a high-specced, affordable brand to a luxury one has just started. We think Filipinos still have to come to terms with that. The question will be, “Why pay top money for a phone with a lesser feature set than that of the Galaxy Note 7?” It’s not like the average customer will notice the difference in performance, anyway.

LG G5? Please, the quality is not even close to the Note 7’s. And, as we’re finding out now, its modular design is more marketing gimmick than innovation. The more interesting LG handset, the V20, is still being teased in the Philippines. No word on its actual release date.

And of course, the latest and greatest from Apple, Samsung’s closest rival for many years now. News flash: Apple hasn’t even announced an iPhone 7 and 7 Plus launch date for the Philippines yet (cue #ThirdWorldProblem). If it had, we reckon the Cupertino-based company would be the main beneficiary of the Note 7 recall. The only place where we can get them early is the local gray market. Chances are, the new iPhones will arrive sometime in mid-November. Again, too late.

Apple hasn’t even announced an iPhone 7 and 7 Plus launch date for the Philippines yet (cue #ThirdWorldProblem). If it had, we reckon the Cupertino-based company would be the main beneficiary of the Note 7 recall.

This whole Samsung Galaxy Note 7 battery issue will cast doubt on the manufacturer’s future devices, but unless Samsung makes another blunder so huge as this, we do not think consumers’ confidence in the company will go up in smoke that easily.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 review by Krystal Key

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Alora Uy Guerrero

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Editor-in-chief: Alora Uy Guerrero has 17 years of experience as an editor for print and digital publications such as Yahoo. She took time off journalism to manage OPPO’s digital-marketing campaigns. When not busy with her babies, she’s working on Revü, a passion project — or probably traveling or obsessing over her favorite bands, movies, TV shows, and basketball teams.