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(LEAD) Samsung begins exchanges, refunds of Galaxy Note 7 in S. Korea

All News 12:07 October 13, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS details in paras 6-7)

SEOUL, Oct. 13 (Yonhap) -- Owners of the Galaxy Note 7 in South Korea on Thursday started getting refunds or swapping their phones for another smartphone, two days after Samsung Electronics Co. decided to discontinue the device over safety concerns.

Consumers who have a Note 7 in their possession must visit stores where they bought the devices to get a refund or exchange.

The refunds and exchanges in South Korea will be completed by the end of this year, according to local mobile carriers.

Buyers of the Note 7 had received free gifts, including Gear Fit 2, but they do not need to return the gifts.

Consumers can exchange their Note 7s with smartphones made by other manufacturers.

An employee prepares boxes of Galaxy Note 7s for their return to Samsung Electronics at a mobile carrier outlet in Seoul on Oct. 12, 2016. (Yonhap)

If a customer decides to swap a Note 7 for another Samsung smartphone, such as the Galaxy S7 or the Galaxy S7 Edge, he or she will be offered a mobile gift card worth 30,000 won (US$26.60).

For those who swap a Note 7 for the latest Samsung phone, including the Galaxy S7 and the Galaxy S7 Edge, Samsung will also offer 70,000 won toward each owner's cell phone bill, according to mobile carriers.

"The measure is aimed at giving benefits to all owners of the Note 7 to protect its market share," said an official at a mobile carrier.

Meanwhile, a market researcher expected the permanent end of production of the Note 7 to create an opening for rival smartphone makers, but it will not affect rising component prices.

"Samsung's stunning announcement to stop all sales and exchanges of Galaxy Note 7 is expected to cause noticeable changes in shipments of major smartphone brands," said the market researcher TrendForce.

"In the large-size smartphone market, Samsung's competitors such as Apple, Huawei, Vivo and OPPO are expected to snatch up the demand that was initially going to Note 7," it said.

"On the other hand, the discontinuation of Note 7 sales will not dampen the upward price trends for key smartphone components, including DRAM, NAND Flash and AMOLED panels," it said.

TrendForce said, "In the long run, the fallout from the Note 7 incident will have a significant impact on Samsung's overall bottom line."

To stay profitable, TrendForce said Samsung "may increase the prices of its memory and panel components, which have a dominant market share worldwide."

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