Samsung Note 7 to be Disabled Remotely: No Recharge, Signal

John Lister's picture

Samsung is to remotely block the controversial Galaxy Note 7 phone from recharging. It's an attempt to persuade users who've hung on to the potentially-exploding handset to return the device for a refund.

The phone was officially recalled by Samsung after reports of handsets overheating and causing burns, and in some cases catching fire. While Samsung is yet to release an official report into the causes of the problem, independent analysis suggests the phone's thin design put too much stress on the battery.

To date, around 93 percent of the Note 7's sold to the public have been returned for a refund and made their way back to Samsung. The problem is that the remaining seven percent equates to around 175,000 handsets. Even if some of those are currently with retailers or in transit, that's potentially tens of thousands of handsets still being used.

Update To Take Effect Within Weeks

Samsung's latest move is to issue a software update that prevents the phone from recharging. The idea is that the handset will quickly run down and become useless, stopping people from continuing to operate it. The phone will continue to work while connected to a power outlet through a charger, but the battery won't top up.

However, the way Android device updates works means that in the US at least it will be up to cellphone service carriers to send the update to phones. Three of the major carriers have scheduled the update with T-Mobile planning a release on December 27, AT&T on January 5 and Sprint on January 8.

Verizon Refuses To Issue Update

Controversially Verizon says it doesn't plan to issue the update. It said: "We will not push a software upgrade that will eliminate the ability for the Note7 to work as a mobile device in the heart of the holiday travel season. We do not want to make it impossible to contact family, first responders or medical professionals in an emergency situation." (Source:

Measures in other countries have varied. In the United Kingdom the software update will allow charging but only to 30 percent of the battery's capacity. In New Zealand, however, carriers have agreed to shut off cellphone service to the device completely. (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

Is this a smart way to deal with people who've ignored the recall? Are there any drawbacks to such an approach? Is Verizon right to refuse to issue the update?

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Dennis Faas's picture

I thought this was a very unique solution to preventing potential disaster with the exploding batteries, until I read that it would happen right around the holidays. This seems like really bad timing - so I tend to agree with Verizon on this one. I think they should send out a service message to all Note 7 owners (which won't disappear) to say that the device will be shut down / no recharge starting January 1st. That should give people enough time to get a replacement of some kind, or make alternative arrangements. That said, I sure would hate to be the person to get a Note 7 as a Christmas present this year.

guyser01's picture

... Those 7% of holdouts know the risk and are taking it upon themselves to keep a known dangerous device. I'd rather experience a little holiday inconvenience than possibly losing a loved one in a fire that could have been prevented. Dangerous batteries do not know calendars.

guyser01's picture

If I were a Note 7 user, I would have turned that device in a long time ago.

matt_2058's picture

How long does it take to get a new phone? And is that time worth more than your house, or health?

I don't have a Note7, so I don't know what measures have been taken to notify users. A splash screen would seem a good first notice. Then maybe a warning from the carrier that would require accepting new terms, like liability, if use is continued. Otherwise, service is cut.

Anyone that continues use after that....well....oh well. Whether is it it catching fire or putting a crater in the side of their head.

I saw a truck battery explode. A team member failed to check the battery properly before a mobile jumper cart was used on a frozen battery. Not pretty and makes quite a mess no matter how big or small the battery is.