Galaxy Note 7 exchanged: Two weeks without it had me running to the store

Samsung's Note 7 battery issue was terrible for business, but the company stepped up quickly and now we see safe replacements appearing at US carrier stores. Look for the black square on the box.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer

Samsung is sure to get more Note 7 devices to the US soon.

Yesterday, Samsung issued a press release that 500,000 Galaxy Note 7 replacement devices were shipped to US wireless carrier stores.

My buddy Todd Haselton, executive editor at TechnoBuffalo, tweeted that he exchanged his at the AT&T store as I was riding the train home from work last night, so I quickly called up a couple of T-Mobile stores in Washington State and found one willing to sell me one. These 500,000 units are intended for those who need to exchange their units, but those of us who returned them immediately upon notification still may be able to repurchase the Note 7 since we exchanged it through the mail. T-Mobile looked up my purchase history to verify that I had indeed been a Note 7 owner.


Look for the black square and right bar codes for a safe Note 7.

While I previously owned and reviewed the black Note 7, a Twitter poll I posted had 70 percent voting for blue and 30 percent for black, so I went with the majority vote this time. Blue is a nice change from standard black, and so far I am pleased with my choice.

I sent my Note 7 back the day before the official recall started. It was just rumored at this point and I didn't want to deal with the possible hassle of an exchange, so I've spent the last two weeks moving my T-Mobile SIM through the following phones. None of them satisfied me as much as the Note 7, as summarized in my thoughts below:

  • Honor 8: Gorgeous device, and with DPI adjustment, the display works well. I missed wireless charging, front fingerprint scanner, and S Pen, but this was still probably my favorite device over the past two weeks.
  • Huawei P9: Similar to the Honor 8, but the Honor 8 offers even more cool functionality with the rear smart key and some other customization options.
  • LG V20: Solid feel, useful dual screen, good battery life, great camera, and metal back, etc, I missed wireless charging and don't like rear fingerprint scanners. I was using an early preview unit and unfortunately killed it when water was found in the battery compartment after a walk in light rain. This unit may not have been properly sealed, as it was not submerged and should have withstood these conditions.
  • LG G5: This device has a gorgeous display and strong camera, but the fit and finish cannot match the Note 7. The battery doesn't last as long as others either.
  • HTC 10: With a long history of using HTC devices, I really want to love the HTC 10. However, the camera continues to blow out the image with light in the frame, and I just can't seem to fully commit to the device. The inability to customize the quick controls is a pet peeve of mine too.
  • Google Nexus 6P: A Project Fi SIM usually lives in this phone, but my T-Mobile SIM spent some time in it. It's a fantastic Nexus device, and I enjoyed using Android Nougat, but the camera has a pretty basic interface and doesn't perform as well as the Note 7. As mentioned above, I'm also a fan of front fingerprint scanners.

The S Pen is compelling on the Note 7 and significantly enhances the user experience of the device.

All of these are solid phones and will meet the needs of many people, but I live on my smartphones and don't mind paying for the best. After two weeks, I just wasn't fully satisfied with everything about any of these phones and found the Galaxy Note 7 to be nearly perfect when I reviewed it.

In addition to the device specifics listed above, the following are why I had to go back to the Note 7:

  • Voice calls sound better on the Note 7. Carrier-branded devices seem to perform better with voice -- and this was especially true while using the Nexus 6P that kept crackling in my ear.
  • Bluetooth performance is more stable and reliable. My Acura has Bluetooth, and the Note 7 is one of the few Android devices that keeps a steady connection.
  • I use MightyText to text to my family from my PC, and for some reason, a few of the other Android devices would "lose" the connection while the Note 7 always keeps things up and running.
  • The always-on display is very handy with the dual clock setup I have and the notifications.
  • I mentioned it earlier, but the S Pen is compelling on the Note 7 and significantly enhances the user experience of the device.

If you want to keep the Note 7, I highly encourage you to go visit your local wireless carrier store. With a reported 1 million devices sold in the US, this initial batch of 500,000 units should be able to reach everyone who reads this site. Samsung is sure to get more to the US soon, and it will be interesting to see how many stick with the Note 7 after this battery failure.

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