Now the phone's name has become synonymous with danger, prompting Samsung to work with the U.S. product safety watchdog, the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The agency has advised people to stop using the phones immediately. Not only that, the Federal Aviation Administration has recommended that the phones not be used or even powered on during flights — meaning that at least a million people are hearing a warning about the Galaxy Note 7, by name, on every flight.
With the unprecedented return of so many potentially defective smartphones comes the question: How much will a Note 7 recall tarnish the company's reputation?
Even with the bad timing and the bad press, there shouldn't be too much lasting damage as long as Samsung continues to respond to consumers' problems, said Robert Cuthbertson, vice president at the consulting firm Boston Retail Partners.
Companies have overcome recalls before, he said, noting that Tylenol — which recalled all of its pills in 1982 — recovered by acting quickly and doing everything to demonstrate that its customers came first.
On Monday, Samsung told South Korean media that the company will switch its battery supplier to China's ATL, the main supplier of iPhone batteries. "Samsung is trying to rectify their situation and do their best to control their damage and make sure it doesn’t happen again," Cuthbertson said. As long as there are no further issues with the new phones, he said, Samsung should be able to rebound.
Samsung has battled for years with Apple for dominance in the smartphone market. While Samsung is the world's largest smartphone maker, many of its phones are made for less-expensive segments of the market. In the past five or so years, the firm has tried to position itself as a premium smartphone maker with devices that can rival the iPhone — a campaign that's steadily brought the company the recognition it craves.
In the 2016 American Consumer Satisfaction Index telecommunications survey, the Galaxy Note 5 actually beat the iPhone 6s Plus as the top-rated phone. And while a slowdown in the smartphone market overall had hurt sales, Samsung announced last quarter that it was in a great position for 2016, as sales of its Galaxy S7 and S7 edge had sent the company's profits to their highest point in two years.
Cuthbertson doubts Samsung will lose many customers to rival Android smartphone makers because its products still have the unique features in their screens and software that made them sell in the first place. Cuthbertson also said he doesn't think Apple will benefit much from its rival's setback because many people choose Samsung primarily as an alternative to Apple.
"Samsung has positioned themselves as the anti-iPhone, and they have loyalists to the Android platform," he said. "There are also definitely those with a loyalty to the Galaxy in particular."
So far, online surveys have shown that, certainly among Android fans, Samsung's brand loyalty hasn't taken too much of a hit. In a reader poll, the news site Android Police found that 39 percent of respondents said their perception of Samsung hadn't changed at all in light of the recall.
Analyst Peter Yu said that signs so far signal the firm will bounce back in the end, even with the cost of a recall that Samsung acknowledges will be "heartbreaking."
"Telcos at least have purchased more Galaxy S7/S7 Edges to replace demand for Note 7s rather than moving to other smartphone vendors," Yu said, according to CNBC. "Hence, Samsung has maintained its 3Q16 smartphone shipment guidance despite the expected impact on Note 7 sales."
Shares of the firm are recovering, easing some of the $22 billion in losses Samsung suffered immediately after reports of the battery explosions hit the news. Samsung's stock, traded on the exchange in Seoul, closed up 4.23 percent Tuesday; Wednesday was a trading holiday in South Korea.