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article imageSamsung to cap Note 7's battery capacity at 60 percent

By James Walker     Sep 13, 2016 in Technology
Samsung has announced it is developing a software update for its recalled Galaxy Note 7 smartphone that will cap the device's battery capacity at 60 percent. The company hopes it will stop the recent deluge of battery explosions caused by overheating.
The launch of Samsung's flagship Galaxy Note 7 hasn't gone especially smoothly. After being named phone of the year by many, the company has had to recall 2.5 million handsets due to battery explosions. Owners can return their device to obtain a free replacement but not everyone has participated in the program. To help protect these users, Samsung is developing a software update designed to prevent affected devices from overheating during charging.
The company advertised the upcoming update in a newspaper advertisement in South Korea today. According to the Associated Press, the ad described the software fix as "a measure to put consumer safety first." Once installed, the Note 7 will be prevented from charging to capacities above 60 percent. While it will greatly reduce the smartphone's endurance, it may also lower the risk of the device overheating during charging.
Samsung is advertising a release date of September 20 for its South Korean users. It is not currently clear if the update will be rolling out worldwide or whether it will be mandatory. Note 7 owners may simply decline the patch to continue to fully charge their phones. Samsung is said to be in communication with mobile carriers to give the update a wider rollout. It wants to ensure no Note 7 is ever fully charged.
The update is being viewed as a last ditch effort by Samsung to convince Note 7 owners to realise the severity of the issue. The recall program is now well underway but many owners remain reluctant to return their phone. Over the weekend, Samsung released an updated statement in which it urged all Note 7 users to "immediately" participate in the recall. It's likely that some devices will never be handed back in though.
Samsung is rumoured to be developing another software fix to tackle these devices. It is thought to be building a patch that will leave affected Note 7 handsets disabled, rendering them unusable.
Samsung's increased pressure on owners comes amid official safety warnings from airlines and consumer health groups, advising users to turn their phones off as soon as possible. Yesterday, a six-year-old boy was injured when a Note 7 exploded in his hands, the latest in a long line of claimed overheating cases.
The scale of the recall is straining Samsung's support network, leaving service centres and retailers struggling to deal with the waves of devices being handed in. To apologise to its staff, Samsung is said to have delivered free pizza to carrier shops and handset retailers in South Korea today. It hasn't yet compensated its customers or people injured by their phone, however.
It is unknown whether capping the Note's battery capacity to 60 percent is enough to prevent it exploding. With the issue more centred on heat than charge duration, it's possible a device could still catch fire if being fast charged, wirelessly charged or used heavily. The move is more another effort by Samsung to convince owners to register for a replacement phone, helping it to get the dangerous devices out of use.
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