Replacement Galaxy Note 7s Arrive En Masse

A global recall of Samsung Electronics Co.’s Galaxy Note 7 smartphone, whose batteries in some cases caught fire, rolled out in earnest around the world, amid questions about whether Samsung can meet demand for the replacement devices.

In the U.S., the company said it would have about 500,000 Galaxy Note 7 devices on hand for Wednesday, the first day in which consumers could pick up a replacement device.

Samsung is giving consumers the option of trading in their original Galaxy Note 7 phone for another handset.

When Samsung announced the recall of 1 million of the top-of-the-line handsets last week in the U.S. following explosions caused by faulty lithium-ion batteries, the company said consumers could get a replacement phone no later than Wednesday, according to a company statement.

In Australia, where Samsung recalled about 51,000 devices, the South Korean smartphone giant said Wednesday that the replacement devices had all arrived in the country.  Phone companies and retailers have already contacted, or will soon contact, customers who have already decided to get a new device to coordinate delivery or pickup, Samsung said.

Samsung also said it would release an automatic update on Wednesday night for customers who were still carrying old Galaxy Note 7s in Australia, which would limit the maximum charge on the phone’s battery to 60%. The software update was initially only available in South Korea.

Samsung said that it hoped the update would “further encourage those who haven’t sought to replace their Galaxy Note 7 to do so immediately.”

For customers who receive a new Galaxy Note 7, another update will include a green battery icon to identify it as a new device that doesn’t have the battery issue.

In Samsung’s home market of South Korea, where the recall began on Monday, there hasn’t been a stampede of customers seeking trade-ins or full refunds, which were being offered for a limited time.

At a downtown Seoul store operated by carrier KT Corp., a store manager said that none of the more than 20 customers who purchased a Galaxy Note 7 from his branch had requested a refund. Instead, the store had received about six more preorders since Samsung announced the smartphone recall on Sept. 2, he said.

“There isn’t much difference compared to before the recall took place,” he said.

One man who showed up to exchange his Galaxy Note 7 for a refurbished model said: “It’s bothersome to come back to the store.”

After supplying his phone number and other personal details, the customer walked out with a new phone, complete with new earphones and a charger.

The store manager said he let customers leave the store with both their old and new Galaxy Note 7 phones if they had to transfer big loads of data. Customers have to return the old device in three days, he said, adding that retailers were advised to turn in all returned devices to Samsung stores by Sept. 30.

At a nearby store for carrier SK Telecom Co., display tables for the Galaxy Note 7 smartphones at carrier stores laid bare. An employee said display devices would be in place starting next Wednesday, when new, fixed smartphones are back on sale to the general public.

In the U.S., the company has said it was moving as quickly as possible to ensure that it could keep up with potential demand for trade-in devices.

Samsung declined to say when the remaining devices will be available.

“We are delivering as promised and moving quickly to educate consumers about the recall and make new Note 7s available,” said Tim Baxter, president of Samsung Electronics America.

Samsung, working with wireless carriers and retailers, initiated a formal exchange program in conjunction with U.S. safety authorities last Thursday that allowed customers to receive a new Note 7, a refund or a different Samsung phone. Customers had returned 130,000 affected devices before the formal recall launched, the company said.

Samsung first instructed consumers to stop using the new Galaxy Note 7 three weeks ago. The recall has been marred by miscommunication ever since. A longtime Samsung customer, Eric Myers, said he tried exchanging his recalled Note 7 for another model at a Verizon store in Vallejo, Calif., late last week, but was turned away because he didn’t have the original box or adapter.

“They sent me home with a phone that could potentially blow up,” Mr. Myers, 25 years old, said.

A Verizon spokeswoman said consumers should be able to return the phones even without the box or accessories.

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