Meanwhile, the battery mystery draws to a conclusion
Even though it can explode if its battery charges past 60%, a number of Note 7 owners still don’t want to part with their devices, which despite their myriad safety problems were/are still high-end phones that won some loyal users over before … well, before.
At any rate, those users are going to find it increasingly hard to maintain their reluctance to part with the device and receive either a refund or trade-in because the next software.
As of December 19, over a 30-day rollout, all remaining phones will have a software update downloaded to them that disables both charging and calling. It’s unclear how many more phones the company expects this final cull will bring in, though since it says it’s accounted for 93% of those sold in the US, that would leave about 133,000 devices floating around elsewhere.
A similar ban is already going into effect in Canada, where as of December 15, “Customers still using the Note 7 will no longer be able to connect to any Canadian mobile network services to make calls, use data or send text messages.” (The devices can still dial 911 for emergencies, though.)
This follows a similar initiative taken in New Zealand, where under pressure from the government, Samsung blocked all Note 7s from connecting to local carriers from November 18 forward, aiming to force the last few hundred unaccounted-for devices owners to send them back, though they would still be able to use Wi-Fi.
At least one US carrier is unhappy with the move, though. Verizon announced it will not follow through with the measure, stating that doing so would be too disruptive to the handful of users left during the holiday travel season.
T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T will all comply, however.
While Verizon is probably concerned about liability issues like Samsung Canada is – imagine the PR nightmare if someone can’t call poison control on Christmas Eve on a bricked device – it’s also, as Mashable notes, part of a bigger tug of war between the manufacturers and carriers over control of the device and, by extension, consumer behavior.
The bricking is the final nail in the coffin for the design, even if it Samsung does decide to reuse parts of it. Indeed, an independent study by Instrumental.ai has found that the design may have been the catalyst for all that’s followed. The group believes that, “A smaller battery using standard manufacturing parameters would have solved the explosion issue and the swell[ing] issue,” but that Samsung elected to push the limit because a smaller device wouldn’t have produced enough power for the Note 7 to work well.
A formal accounting of the problem from Samsung is expected to come out within weeks. Its conclusions, according to the Korea Herald, will determine how the recycling effort goes ahead. It will also affect how people perceive next year’s Galaxy Note and S8 rollout, and the quality control methods to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.