When it's not catching on fire or exploding, the Note 7 is an excellent phone — arguably the best out there. Like most of you, we expected battery-related issues to be resolved through Samsung's recall and replacement program. Although serious damage had been dealt to the Note brand, the product itself was still fantastic.
The volume and similarity of these reports means Samsung has likely failed to address an underlying cause of the fires.
Now, multiple reports of fires involving replacement Note 7s from the U.S., Taiwan and Korea suggest the high probability of a continuing battery safety issue with the phone. We're no longer looking at a single incident on an airplane. The volume and similarity of these reports means Samsung has likely failed to address an underlying cause of the fires.
That's why today we're withdrawing our recommendation to buy the Galaxy Note 7, adding a disclaimer to our review to reflect this. We're also retracting our Choice Award, and will be removing it from our Smartphone Buyer's Guide over the coming days. As it stands, you should not buy this phone.
If you already have a Note 7 in the U.S., we'd suggest taking advantage of the carriers' offers to exchange it for a refund or another phone. In other countries, you may be able to return it for a refund within a certain time after purchase.
Where Samsung goes from here isn't clear. Neither it nor the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has reported any conclusions yet from their investigations — but again, the number of very similar battery fire reports speaks for itself. An unprecedented second recall is a possibility, as is abandoning the product altogether and refunding existing customers. Both would try the patience of consumers. (And should another recall happen, who would have any confidence that Samsung had really fixed the issue in a third run of Note 7s?) The damage caused by this extraordinary situation will surely spill over onto Samsung's next flagship, the Galaxy S8.
As it stands, you should not buy this phone.
The Note 7 was a great phone, but at this stage the damage is terminal. The lingering doubts over the safety of the phone will never disappear, and it's unlikely you'll ever be able to use it on a plane, or easily sell it when it's time to upgrade next.
So it's our recommendation that you don't buy a Galaxy Note 7. Return yours for an exchange or refund if you can, and buy another great Android phone instead.