Samsung’s U.S. replacement program for the Galaxy Note 7 kicked off Wednesday, giving those who purchased the phones the opportunity to swap out their recalled phones for new models that don’t have the battery linked to fires and explosions.
Any Galaxy Note 7 sold before Sept. 15 in the United States will likely need to be replaced. The new phones will have a different battery indicator than the old ones, to ensure that customers can tell the difference between them. Safe phones have a green battery indicator, while the older phones have a black and white indicator.
Samsung and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission have urged all Note 7 owners to turn their devices off and stop using them. Those who have not will get a software update pushed to their phones that will repeatedly show a safety message that echoes this request. The message will appear every time users turn on or charge their device, Samsung said. This update should have reached affected users’ phones starting Tuesday.
“Working hand in hand with the CPSC, we are delivering as promised and moving quickly to educate consumers about the recall and make new Note7s available,” Tim Baxter, president of Samsung Electronics America, said in a statement late Tuesday.
Samsung first made problems about the Galaxy Note 7 public Sept. 2 and officially launched a recall Sept. 15. The company first tried to deal with the problem by initiating its own independent exchange program without government cooperation, but faced criticism from Consumer Reports and others for not initiating an official recall at that time.
When announcing the official recall last week, CPSC chairman Elliot Kaye said that it was not ideal to have companies go off on their own to deal with serious product defects. But the agency on Wednesday had praise for Samsung when asked about the company’s actions directly preceding and following that announcement.
“Samsung is taking steps that go above and beyond what the average recalling company does. And that’s a positive for consumers,” said CPSC director of communications Scott Wolfson.
He again urged Note 7 users to exchange their phones as quickly as possible and to stop using them to avoid the risk of another car fire, house fire, or leg burn because of the phone’s battery.
“What we are seeing through accounts on social media and news accounts is that there are consumers who are still using the phone,” Wolfson said. “That’s not surprising to us considering the utility of the product.” But, he added, consumers have no excuse now to delay exchanging their phones now that Samsung’s official exchange program now in effect.
Those still unsure about whether their Note 7 is affected by the recall can visit Samsung’s website and type in their phone’s IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number. Customers can find that number by looking on the box or a sticker on the back of the phone. It can also be found by going to a phone’s setting using this path: “Apps > Settings > About Phone or General Management > Status > IMEI information or Serial number.”
Overall, the Samsung recall affects 1 million phones in the United States, according to the CPSC. In a statement Tuesday, Samsung said that it has more than 500,000 replacement devices on hand available for exchange Thursday.
Customers can also ask for their money back; many carriers are also offering other Samsung devices as a potential replacement for the Note 7.