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article imageSamsung preparing to permanently disable Galaxy Note7

By James Walker     Dec 9, 2016 in Technology
Samsung has announced it is preparing to launch a new software update for its recalled and discontinued Galaxy Note7 smartphone that will prevent remaining devices from charging. The move is intended to convince owners to return their phones.
Samsung has previously issued software updates limiting the battery capacity of the Note7 in a bid to reduce the risk of the handsets catching fire. As of today, around 93 percent of phones in the U.S. have been returned. That still leaves a large number of devices that haven't been handed in though, posing a safety risk to their owners, property and other people.
In a final effort to get every Note7 out of use, Samsung today announced "bold steps" that will make U.S. versions of the phone unusable. On December 19, a software update will be released that will disable charging and cellular connectivity. Once the update is installed, phones will turn into expensive paperweights as the battery runs flat.
The drastic measure is unprecedented in the smartphone industry. Samsung is effectively locking owners out of their phones in the interests of safety. Having taken enough negative publicity already, the company is trying to avoid having to deal with another Note7 fire in the future. It said it will be contacting owners once the update rolls out. It should reach all devices by mid-January.
"This software update will prevent U.S. Galaxy Note7 devices from charging and will eliminate their ability to work as mobile devices," said Samsung. "Together with our carrier partners, we will be notifying consumers through multiple touchpoints to encourage any remaining Galaxy Note7 owners to participate in the program and to take advantage of the financial incentives available."
The move comes shortly after similar measures in other regions that leave the Note7 effectively useless. It has been blocked from mobile networks in New Zealand amid fears more devices could explode.
This week, Samsung announced a software update in Canada that disables Wi-Fi, mobile data and Bluetooth, preventing the phone from accessing the internet. UK devices will soon have their battery capacities capped at 30 percent in a move designed to "reinforce" the need to participate in the recall.
Samsung first recalled the Galaxy Note 7 during mid-September after receiving dozens of reports of the phones spontaneously combusting, causing injuries and property damage. It initially began a replacement program without the help of the authorities, issuing customers new handsets with an assurance they had "safe" batteries inside.
By the end of the month, it was clear the problems hadn't been resolved though. After initially claiming that reports of replacement devices catching fire were nothing to be concerned about, the company admitted the new phones were also being affected.
By mid-October, Samsung had announced a complete recall of every Note7 built, confirming millions of phones could burst into flame. The company is now undertaking a last-ditch effort to convince owners to return their phones and get a new Galaxy S7 or a full refund, both including additional incentives.
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