Samsung software update to stop Note 7 from charging
In its attempt to get back all the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 devices, tech giant Samsung has announced a software update that will stop the smartphone from charging altogether. The return rate of the device in the US increased from 85% to 93% after an update, designed to “limit the phone’s ability to charge beyond 60 percent,” was released last month.
Even since its decision to cancel the Note 7, Samsung has been making it more annoying to use. It first sent an update that popped up frequent warnings about the risk of fire. Later, there was an update the limited battery charge to 60%. Not only did that make the phone more difficult to use, it ensured there was less energy for the battery to release in the event of a fire. Now, it has opted to disable the battery completely. No battery power means no fire.
Samsung says the new update will begin rolling out to Note 7 devices in the US starting on December 19th. It should hit all phones within 30 days. When the update is installed, the Note 7 will no longer charge at all. That means when the battery is dead, it’s dead forever. The only way the phone will power on once the battery is exhausted is if you have it plugged into a power source. That should allow owners to retrieve any remaining personal data from the phone before turning it in.
The only exception to this is Verizon, which has refused to push the battery-killing update. In a strangely defiant message on its website, Verizon claims this update would pose “added risk” to owners who don’t have another device to switch to. Verizon specifically says it will not disable the phone during “the heart of the holiday travel season.” Of course, the Note 7 is banned from all flights, and it can literally explode even when powered off. Maybe the update will still be pushed later? Verizon’s wording is vague. That’s all beside the point, though. No Note 7 owner has to continue using the device. Samsung and the carriers have been offering free exchanges for months. I would wager Verizon’s real concern is the potential complaints it would get after killing the phone, even if it’s a fire hazard.
I can see both sides of this situation. While the Note 7 is dangerous and people should not be using it, these folks did buy it. They own it, and it’s lame for Samsung to reach out and disable the hardware. Samsung’s motivation is, of course, to keep exploding Note 7 stories from reappearing in the news. On the other hand, not disabling potential fire hazards when it has the ability to is negligent.
Samsung says 93% of Note 7 handsets have been returned. That still leaves around 175,000 phones in the wild. Maybe this update will reduce that number.