Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Remember the Galaxy Note 7? That's the one where hundreds of phones started spontaneously catching on fire shortly after launch due to battery design flaws, Samsung had to recall the phone, then re-launched it, and had to recall it again when the issue persisted. This all happened less than three years ago; the reborn Galaxy Note 7 Fan Edition launched just two years ago.

This industry moves quickly, but that wasn't that long ago. Despite that, the whole Note 7 fiasco had honestly escaped my mind, until I heard a reference to it on a podcast the other day. The Note 7 failures were serious (and seriously dangerous), and the recalls were a long drawn-out process that took months to get through — and yet it fell from consciousness relatively quickly. Particularly after we've spent months with the Galaxy Note 9 and Galaxy S10 series, Samsung has put the Note 7 saga well and truly in the past.

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Samsung Galaxy Fold

Remembering how well Samsung came out from the Note 7's failure is important right now for two reasons: we're just over a week from the Galaxy Note 10's announcement, and Samsung has just announced it's moving forward with the Galaxy Fold's launch (again).

Samsung's handling of the Note 7 bodes well for the Note 10, mostly because that past failure just isn't going to be on the mind of anyone buying a new Note at this point. With two successful Note generations in the rear view mirror with nary an issue, effectively nobody looking at a Note 10 will be concerned about how safe it is. And that's great for Samsung, because without any baggage like that holding it back, the Note 10 is shaping up to be a hit.

The Galaxy Fold didn't hurt anyone, but people also don't love it like they did the Note 7.

Looking at the Galaxy Fold in this context, however, doesn't fill you with as much confidence. If you look at the way Samsung handled the Note 7, recalling and re-launching the phone only to have it fail spectacularly again, you could see a scenario in which the Galaxy Fold suffers the same fate. Call it confidence or hubris or something in between, but Samsung can definitely get stuck in its ways when it makes a decision. The choice to apply some fixes and re-launch the Galaxy Fold has a non-zero chance of backfiring, just like it did with the Note 7.

The difference with the Fold is that there aren't thousands and thousands of fanatics craving to get their hands on it like there were with the Note 7. People loved the Note 7, to the point where even when facing the real possibility that the phone would catch on fire, they wouldn't give it up. All the average person knows about the Galaxy Fold is that it's expensive and the first time it launched it had hardware failures that were exposed immediately. And you can't manufacture that kind of fanaticism for a new product nobody's used.

Thankfully for Samsung, it needs the Note 10 to be an immediate success far more than the Fold. So long as the Fold doesn't fail catastrophically in the same way — let alone start catching on fire — the combination of the two devices will make for a solid second half of 2019 for the company.