You are forbidden from taking one on a plane. The South Korean government is now investigating the product’s tendency to explode. There was a massive recall, followed by a complete shuttering of the product line–it won’t be sold anymore, anywhere, to anyone. And, there were at least 35 confirmed incidents of the device overheating and catching on fire or exploding.
What we’re witnessing here is the worst gadget of all time. The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 beats the Apple Newton by a long shot, makes the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet seem like a winner, and even makes you appreciate some of the features of the Microsoft Kin phones.
When any device shows up in the game Grand Theft Auto V as a joke, you know there’s a problem. When it can be used as an incendiary device, thrown at people on the street or attached to the side of a car, you know there’s a completely different level of badness.
Part of the issue here is that the Note 7 was supposed to be the answer to the iPhone 7 Plus at long last. We were all going to buy one. Incredible battery life, thin and light, waterproof (the original tease videos showed people using one under water), and sporting the latest Android release. The Note 7 would join the Galaxy 7 as a device that can work for both business folks and consumers, a big screen that is Netflix-friendly yet has plenty of data encryption features.
Then, things went a little haywire. Some of the early reports involved a phone that burned a child, one that created smoke damage in an apartment, and another that emitted a strange green smoke in an airplane. Another nail in the coffin that says the Note 7 is the worst gadget of all time? According to reports, engineers at Samsung still can’t figure out why the battery overheats.
In 15 years, I’ve tested some pretty terrible products like the Microsoft Kin. Even from the beginning, the Note 7 seemed odd. After the reports about overheating started to circulate, other journalists stopped covering the device. And by “stopped covering” I mean they were afraid to use it. I tested one initially when it first came out. Like many Android phones, it seemed powerful enough. Google has steadily improved many of the features on the mobile OS to make it more usable and reliable.
I’m no engineer, but it does make you wonder how it is possible to have such a thin and light phone that can be used underwater. It has (or, I should say had) an IP68 rating which is a military spec for full immersion in water for about 30 minutes. Most of the waterproof gadgets I’ve tested usually have a larger case with extra protection from the elements, but the Note 7 looks like every other smartphone and isn’t that bulky. It was a bit of a mystery from the beginning how it stayed water tight.
The Note 7 could have been saved, but after the recall, there were still reports of problems. Samsung likely decided to discontinue the product when they realized the problem was not going to go away. That and when it was banned from airplanes. That’s why it’s time to hand Samsung the envelope. Worst gadget of all time.
If you can think of a gadget that should rank even lower on the scale, post in comments or in the Facebook feed below. Be ready to defend your viewpoint, though. Does it get any worse than an exploding phone?