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article imageSamsung to start sales of refurbished Galaxy Note 7 smartphones

By James Walker     Mar 27, 2017 in Technology
Samsung has officially announced it will sell refurbished Galaxy Note 7 handsets in regions where it is allowed under regulatory rules. The phones are expected to be retrofitted with a smaller battery to ensure they do not overheat and catch fire.
Reports of Samsung's plans first broke late last month. In an announcement today, the company confirmed it will dispose of a large proportion of its 2.5 million stockpiled Galaxy Note 7 handsets by selling them as refurbished phones.
After being forced to recall the original Note 7 and all shipped replacement devices, Samsung took the unprecedented step of discontinuing production entirely. As the scale of the problem became clear, it ordered all handsets to be returned and confirmed the Note7 wouldn't be making a comeback. After originally saying it'd dispose of all the devices, it has now reversed its stance and will bring the phone to market again in an altered form.
Conscious that some handsets may still be a fire risk, Samsung will assess each device to check it's suitable for a new life. It'll then be sold as a refurbished product, used as a rental handset or disposed of depending on whether it's safe.
Samsung is working with regulators and carriers worldwide to determine where it can actually sell the devices. It is also assessing "local demand" to make sure handsets will find a home. The company is likely to target markets with strong refurbished phone sales where it already has an established presence. It'll need to convince buyers that their device isn't about to become another newspaper headline.
Phones which cannot be resold will undergo a specially developed salvage process. Valuable, reusable components will be removed and recycled. Precious metals will then be extracted for inclusion in other devices. Additional components that can't easily be detached, such as the semiconductors and cameras, will be used in future test sample production devices.
The decision has been welcomed by environmental activists. Samsung has been under pressure from the South Korean government and groups including Greenpeace to dispose of the phones responsibly. In a blog post today, Greenpeace said it considers the refurbishment and metal extraction process to be Samsung's "first step to show its effort to set a new path for recycling smartphones."
Greenpeace will continue to monitor Samsung's activities and ensure it follows environmental procedures. If the company's endeavour is successful, its techniques could be used as a model for future scenarios involving the mass recycling of electronic devices at scale.
As Samsung gears up to start sales of refurbished phones, it is also increasing the pressure on remaining Note 7 owners to return their original devices. 96 percent of Note 7s shipped worldwide have now been returned.
The company is planning to release a software update this week that will permanently disable charging on every remaining phone, leaving them unusable. It follows other "bricking" updates that have capped battery capacities and disabled cellular connectivity. Owners may be more likely to comply now obtaining a refurbished handset is a possibility. Samsung will announce availability and pricing for the recycled phones closer to launch.
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