The international recall of the Galaxy Note 7 is becoming a full-fledged disaster for Samsung, with millions of early devices (and consumers) affected. But even with the negative press and a direct hit to revenue, Samsung would prefer its customers send their faulty phones in for a replacement rather than face even a small possibility of said phones bursting into flames. In the company's home territory of South Korea, it's going to use some more direct methods of encouragement.
According to the English version of Korean site Yonhap News, Samsung has announced a software update for the Korean version of the phone that will cap its battery at 60% of its full charge. The Note 7 has a generous 3500mAh battery, but after the OTA is installed the phone will only charge itself up to a bit more than 2000mAh, which will probably mean less than a day's use. Limiting the energy stored in the battery won't fix the design flaw that causes a considerable chance of fire or explosion, but hopefully the sheer annoyance of having a phone with an artificially capped battery will get stubborn users to return, replace, or exchange their glass and metal time bombs. Samsung says the move "is meant to prevent battery overheating and enhance consumer safety."
Samsung also announced an ad campaign to apologize for the inconvenience and encourage Korean customer returns. Despite speculation from Western media outlets, there's currently no official word of a similar battery-limiting OTA update coming to Note 7 phones outside of South Korea. We asked Samsung directly if the capped battery would be coming to the international market, and the company declined to comment.
Of course it's a possibility, but the realities of carrier-customized software make a wide and fast OTA more difficult - organizing an SMS and email campaign would probably be easier and faster. It's also possible that Samsung may consider more drastic measures if it doesn't see the volume of returns that it wants.
Here's the official statement from Samsung's US branch about the battery update (or lack thereof):
Samsung is continuing to work with the CPSC and our carrier partners to develop and evaluate solutions that are best for US Note7 owners.
No action will be taken without the approval of the CPSC. Customer safety remains our top priority.
- Yonhap News