This week, the blog Android Police reported that there appears to be a design flaw in Samsung’s newest phablet, the Galaxy Note 5. According to Android Police, they discovered that owners of the handset could permanently damage the smartphone if they insert its S-Pen stylus into the device’s storage slot backwards.
When The Verge (who also reported about the design flaw) reached out to Samsung for comment regarding the issue, the South Korean phone maker replied that in order for owners of the Galaxy Note 5 to avoid encountering this problem, it is recommended that they refer to the user’s manual for the proper instructions when handling the storage for the device’s stylus.
Such comment may have been expressed with good intentions, but there are others who feel like the phone maker was laying the blame on users who failed to read the manual or improperly stored their stylus (albeit inadvertently), instead of offering a better solution, or even acknowledging the design flaw in the first place (if Samsung indeed considered it a flaw). In the Internet age, this could result into a major backlash, and it goes without saying that Samsung does not need to deal with any negative publicity now, especially when it has more important things to do (like fixing its declining sales figures and eroding market share).
Interestingly, Samsung could do well to learn from the mistakes of its biggest rival Apple, who had to deal with its own antennagate several years back. When Apple released its iPhone 4 back in 2010, consumers began noticing issues with the signal reception whenever they held the device around the lower left hand corner of the handset, causing a mysterious decrease in signal bars. Steve Jobs, Apple’s chief executive officer at that time, basically told affected users to simply hold the device a different way. Well, those affected users were obviously not happy with Jobs’ “solution” and voiced their (not so nice) opinions about the matter, with a number of bloggers taking their side. Apple ultimately offered to allow these users to return their iPhone 4 devices for a full refund, and then proceeded to providing free cases to millions of consumers, which cost the company around $200 million in the process.
Apple’s experience was a case study in how to deal with these types of problems, and it is something which Samsung could learn from. But remember that with Apple’s antennagate, the device only suffered a minor reduction in signal reception. In Samsung’s case, the device gets permanently damaged, and understandably, a mobile user with a broken $700 phablet will certainly not be a happy camper.
And many industry watchers are now saying that Samsung is simply not doing enough to address the issue, except maybe telling people to read the manual carefully (which might be funny because nobody actually reads manuals anymore). This is such a shame because the Galaxy Note 5 has actually earned some very good early reviews. Samsung better fix this now before it is too late, or end up hurting its rep and Galaxy Note 5’s sales.
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