Samsung has hit a big milestone in its U.S. recall of the Galaxy Note 7, but the next group will be tougher.
Now one full week removed from the official CPSC recall of the Note 7 in the U.S., Samsung claimed in a statement sent to Android Central that "about half" of the 1 million recalled phones have been returned. That's a large uptick from the numbers of just a week ago, which had shown that fewer than 20% of Note 7s had been returned despite warnings from Samsung, carriers and retailers.
Another little statistic dropped by Samsung was quite interesting: according to Samsung's numbers, 90% of phones returned in the past two days have simply been swapped out for a new Galaxy Note 7. That contradicts the common refrain that owners of recalled Note 7s were simply taking refunds and buying different phones. Parsing the exact statement does matter, though, as Samsung is only making this 90% claim based on returns after the new stock of 500,000 phones arrived in the U.S. on September 20. We're obviously unsure of what the refund/exchange rates are for the 200,000 or so phones that were returned prior to that point, but it's an easy guess that it has been much lower.
Since new stock hit the U.S., 90% of recall returns were swapped for a new Note 7.
Prior to September 21 stock of new safe Note 7s was extremely small and clearly limited Note 7 owners' options when it came to returning their phones. Reluctance from carriers and retailers in early stages didn't help, either, as offers to use a low-end loaner phone — or little assistance in the process at all — for weeks while waiting for a new Note 7 certainly wasn't appealing. With this new infusion of Galaxy Note 7s sitting on shelves there are clearly enough out there to meet demand for replacements, even as some carriers have started selling the Note 7s to new customers.
At this rate, assuming that Samsung can keep up its supplies to inject another 300,000 or so new Note 7s into the U.S. market we could be looking at something like 80 to 90% return rate by this time next week. The final minority of people who simply hold onto their original Note 7 for weeks on end will surely be an issue, and one that isn't likely to be mitigated by a green battery icon. Samsung will presumably have to take more intense measures to get the final phones replaced.
How Samsung handles the stragglers who just won't turn in their Note 7 despite having a ready replacement available will be a determining factor in how quickly it can put this whole recall saga into the history books.