Samsung starting to cripple Samsung Galaxy Note7 phones

100% human

How do you make someone return a product that you’ve recalled? You cripple it. Samsung has started on that process with the now recalled Samsung Galaxy Note7.

We all recall how a number of these devices caught fire or exploded, including supposedly corrected replacements, making them the pariahs of the phone world. Just this morning I received the routine warning during the safety talk on a Virgin flight that they were not to be used. On 5 September Samsung Australia recalled all Galaxy Note7 devices.

But of course, not everyone has complied. So today Samsung has announced that it will force what it calls a “software” update (I call it “firmware”) on all Australian Note7s still out in the wild. This will limit the phone’s battery to “to a maximum charge of 60 per cent”.

Samsung does not give any specific reasons for this, beyond that:

The software update is part of Samsung’s ongoing safety measures to recover all affected Galaxy Note7 devices.

I strongly suspect it’s for two reasons. First, the reduced charge is basically going to take the phone out of the “all day” stakes. It will have to be topped up (to 60 per cent) during the day, encouraging users to swap. Second, the limited charge likely reduces the danger of fire or explosion.

The updates will commence on 5 November (that’s Saturday).

Samsung uses the word “pushes” to describe the update, so switching off automatic updates isn’t going to stop it from happening. It will happen even overseas.

Customers who purchased their Galaxy Note7 in Australia but are overseas at the time of the software release, will receive the automatic download when they next connect to WiFi.

Samsung is of course still urging the return of the phones:

“Customer safety is our number one priority and we are asking customers who still have a Galaxy Note7 to immediately complete a data back-up and factory reset before powering-down the device and returning it to their place of purchase” said Richard Fink,  Vice President IT & Mobile, Samsung Electronics Australia.

Of course, we agree. However if you have a reason for keeping a Samsung Galaxy Note7 — perhaps as a museum or collector’s piece, not for use — then I’d suggest you switch it off and leave it off.

Oh, and if perchance you purchased a Samsung Galaxy Note7 through less formal channels such as eBay, or some online retailers (Samsung specifically mentions Kogan), then it may not receive this firmware update. Which means it may not be updated at all, or may received a similar or different update from an overseas branch of Samsung.

I guess, that’s the chance you take when you purchase a product through a channel not under the control of the local branch of the manufacturer.