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All burned out: Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 is done for

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Samsung did something today I thought it would never do — not after what had occurred recently. All across the company, stockholders, executives, and staff must have thought the same thing.

The Galaxy Note 7 should’ve been fixed. That’s the whole point of the recall, exchange, or whatever it is Samsung did the past couple of weeks on an unprecedented scale — all that effort should have resulted in a safer phone than when it first arrived in stores. Even though its propensity to spontaneously combust in your hand or in your home should be the least of your concerns when deciding on your next handset.

Yet, clearly — pardon me — the fire on the Note 7 hasn’t died down. And it has forced Samsung to ask carriers and retailers worldwide to “stop sales and exchanges” of the troubled phone and tell customers to “power down and stop using” their device altogether. Again — and at a time when the company was starting to win back the trust of affected customers with swift action and accountability, along with apologies and compensation.

[irp posts=”4358″ name=”How to tell if your Samsung Galaxy Note 7 has faulty or ‘safe’ battery”]

For a while, things seemed to be going well enough. I was there to witness first-hand how genuine company representatives were to Note 7 owners who exchanged their phones on the first day of Samsung’s replacement program in the Philippines. Samsung even put out a press release saying more than one million customers around the world are using “safe” Note 7 units. How long ago those times seem.

Today’s announcement puts the final nail in the Note 7’s coffin; or, more accurately, its black cardboard box. Not that critics and consumers alike didn’t see it coming. As The Verge notes, at least five incidents of replacement units igniting were reported in the U.S. alone within the past week.

Today’s announcement puts the final nail in the Note 7’s coffin.

A Note 7 caught fire on a plane, prompting airline staff to evacuate those inside; a man in Kentucky woke up to find his bedroom filled with black smoke from his burnt replacement device; a Virginia native saw his Note 7 “burst into flames” on his nightstand just two days ago. Many more incidents were reported across China, Taiwan, and South Korea.

It all seems like a replay of the same nightmare scenario Samsung found itself in a month ago. Which is a shame, because I really like the Galaxy Note 7. The rest of the folks here do so, too. So do a bunch of other people in tech, as well as consumers who want their handsets big and cutting edge. Beyond the top-shelf specs, the Note 7 has fancy looks; it has fancy features (the retina scanner is more useful than I predicted); it has fancy everything — including price.

[irp posts=”4473″ name=”You should replace your Samsung Galaxy Note 7 before it’s too late”]

Most importantly, Samsung tried to push the needle forward amid a stagnating industry mired in a prolonged technical slump. Perhaps, as others had suggested, it tried too hard, having recently found out about the “dull” iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.

We’re already months behind its fall launch, but the Note 7 obviously still isn’t market-ready, for whatever reasons. But its rivals are. And in the coming months, you can expect to see Samsung’s fiercest competitors pounce on the opportunity to sell more big-screen handsets while throwing shade at Samsung’s misdeeds and misfortunes. Sick of seeing those new phone commercials? Well, too bad — you’re probably going to see more of them.

Perhaps Samsung tried too hard to push the needle forward amid a stagnating industry mired in a prolonged technical slump.

This site had a lot of content planned for Samsung’s co-flagship, and the operative word here is “had.” The post-crisis review, the how-tos, the related videos — they’re all in the past tense now. The recommendation I made in early August is also no longer accurate; the best advice I could give anybody still using the Note 7 is the same one Samsung is dispensing with urgency: Turn off your device immediately and return it to a store for a refund or another handset. Period. No ifs and buts.

What was supposed to be the most important Samsung smartphone yet had crashed and burned unlike any other, leaving in its trail more questions about the company’s commitment to consumer safety than anything else. Samsung, it bears noting, did the right thing and went to great lengths to keep the battery issue in check. It halted sales and issued a global recall of potentially flammable handsets — twice, following a botched first try.

[irp posts=”1319″ name=”Samsung Galaxy S7, S7 Edge Hands On – Better than eyes can see”]

For the tech giant, maybe the best way to move forward is to eat a sizable slice of humble pie, drop the Note 7 altogether, and focus on the development of its other signature smartphone, next year’s S8. After all, it has enough in the coffers that it can afford to permanently discontinue the Note 7.

The longer this issue takes to resolve, the bigger the mess it makes. What it can’t afford is to let its reputation go up in smoke over one product that has caught fire a few times too many.

Reviews

Google Pixel 4a Unboxing & Review: Unbelievably Good?

A direct contender of the iPhone SE and OnePlus Nord

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Google’s ‘a'(ffordable) line-up may be long overdue because of the pandemic — but after several months of waiting, we finally have one on our hands.

Cheaper than last year’s US$ 399 Pixel 3a, the US$ 349 Pixel 4a might just be the most affordable flagship killer contender you can get over the 2020 iPhone SE and the OnePlus Nord.

But can the mid-tier specifications and less-fancy phone features justify its affordable price tag? Head over to our in-depth Pixel 4a review here.

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Best Smartphones

Best Budget Smartphones below $200

August 2020 Edition

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Welcome to GadgetMatch’s list of the best smartphones priced below US$ 200! Each month, we update our selection with the budget-friendly phones we believe are most deserving of your hard-earned savings.

Even though the spotlight has been on high-end smartphones this entire year, there have been a few surprisingly good entry-level handsets coming out lately, as well. So good, in fact, that we had to reassess our entire list.

Here they are in no particular order

Redmi 9 (PhP 6,990 / US$ 141)

Quality build with baseline specs that can handle, well, the basics. This is what the Redmi line has been offering and that remains true with the Redmi 9. You’ll have to be bit creative with some of the apps you install (always go for the Lite versions), but the pre-installed Google apps run smoothly and should be more than enough to power you through.

Hands-On: Redmi 9

Redmi Note 9 (US$ 200)

This is a routine appearance for the Redmi Note line. Xiaomi continues to lord over the budget segment by offering fairly capable smartphones at such an affordable price.

Review: Redmi Note 9

Realme 6i (US$ 196)

Realme finally releases a budget phone with a USB-C port! That aside, everything here is standard Realme — which is great. Its cameras leave much to be desired but what this is a budget phone after all. It does pretty well everywhere else — can game, handle your usual daily things, and has an impressive battery life.

READ: Realme6i 

OPPO A5s (US$ 117)

The OPPO A5s perhaps is best looked at as a transition device more than anything else. It does what you expect out of budget smartphones. It’s good to have “for now” but you might look elsewhere for a more reliable daily driver.

REVIEW: OPPO A5s

Samsung Galaxy A20 (US$ 190)

Samsung’s revived Galaxy A-series proves that the company cares about every price segment. The Galaxy A20, in particular, is the most well-rounded below US$ 200 thanks to its ultra-wide camera, AMOLED display, and hefty battery.

REVIEW: Samsung Galaxy A20

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Best Smartphones

Best Midrange Smartphones from $200 to $400

August 2020 Edition

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When premium phones are out of financial reach and entry-level handsets just don’t make your cut, something in between is the next best thing. This is our updated list of the best midrange smartphones retailing from US$ 200 to US$ 400.

Formulating this category was tricky, since you can’t set an exact price and some of these devices are, in fact, the flagship phones of their respective brands. To simplify things, we chose a price range that simply sits between our other lists for best budget, upper-midrange, and premium smartphones.

Here they are in no particular order:

realme 6 Pro (PhP 16,990/ US$ 339)

This is the only smartphone in this segment that offers a 90Hz screen refresh rate. It’s one thing if that’s the only thing it’s good at, but the realme 6 Pro has a 64MP quad-camera setup, a really clean UI, and Snapdragon 720G along with 30W VOOC charging. We’re convinced this is the best Android phone in this segment.

Review: realme 6 Pro

realme 6 (PhP 13,990/ US$ 280)

It’s pretty much everything its “pro” sibling is except it’s instead powered by a Helio G90T processor made for gaming. the RAM and storage combo is no slouch too (8GB/128GB) and yes, it also has a 90Hz screen refresh rate. Solid. Value.

Review. realme 6

iPhone SE (US$ 399)

One of the world’s fastest processors, a fantastic camera, at a midranger’s price. If we told you, we’re talking about an iPhone you probably wouldn’t believe us but here we are. The iPhone SE’s design is dated, but everything about its performance is near-flagship or flagship 2020 levels.

REVIEW: iPhone SE

Huawei Nova 7 SE (PhP 19,990/ US$ 399)

Barely making the price point, Huawei phones are facing a unique problem with the lack of Google Mobile Services. That said, Huawei Mobile Services is making a headway. But the reason the phone lands on this list is because of its 5G capabilities. This is one of the most affordable phones to support 5G and that has to count for something.

Hands-On: Huawei Nova 7 SE

Samsung Galaxy A51 (US$ 320)

Samsung’s on a roll with their Galaxy A-series. The Galaxy A51 builds on everything that was already great with the Galaxy A50 and A50s and just makes it even better. Much like everything on the Galaxy lineup this year, the Galaxy A51 sports a look that as of posting is still undeniably Samsung.

Pixel 3a (US$399)

The Pixel 3a barely makes this price range by being just a hair under $400. The camera alone easily makes this crème de la crème of this bunch. Add to that the vanilla Android experience and of course being in the priority list of Android updates, this is the Pixel to get for Android purists.

HANDS-ON: Pixel 3a

POCO X2 (INR 19,99/ US$ 279)

The future of Pocophone was up in the air for a while, but all of that was finally put to rest when the brand finally released the POCO X2. This isn’t exactly the successor to the POCO F1. In fact, this is just a rebranded Redmi K30 Pro. But it’s still a step in the right direction for a brand that quickly captured everyone’s attention only to go completely silent for over a year.

REVIEW: POCO X2

Samsung Galaxy M31 (INR 15,99/US$ 224)

This battery-powerhouse of a smartphone has never quite made it to more markets, but it has gotten a significant amount of attention thanks to its 6,000mAh battery. Something this long-lasting appears to still be one of the priorities of smartphone buyers.

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