Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Cellphones United States Businesses Communications Network Networking Software Wireless Networking Hardware Technology

Samsung May Permanently Disable Galaxy Note 7 Phones In The US As Soon As Next Week (theverge.com) 193

Those who are still clinging on to their Galaxy Note 7, even after Samsung recalled the devices due to faulty batteries in mid-September, may want to seriously reconsider returning them to the Korean company. The Verge has obtained an image of an alert that went out to at least one Note 7 owner on U.S. Cellular today stating that, "As of December 15th, Samsung will modify the software to prevent the Galaxy Note 7 from charging. The phone will no longer work." The Verge reports: It's not clear whether Note 7s will be disabled across the major U.S. carriers as well, but it seems likely that'll be the case. In the past, updates disabling Note 7 features have rolled out across Verizon, ATT, and other carriers within a matter of days. That's probably what'll happen here, as well. By preventing the phone from charging, Samsung takes the final step to making the phone entirely unusable. It's still offering Note 7 owners the ability to fully return the phone or exchange it for another Samsung device. As of November 4th, when Samsung last provided an update, 85 percent of Note 7s sold in the U.S. had been recovered. That still left around 285,000 phones unaccounted for. Completely disabling the phone seems to be Samsung's last-ditch effort to either recover the remaining devices or remove what risk they still pose to consumers.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Samsung May Permanently Disable Galaxy Note 7 Phones In The US As Soon As Next Week

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 09, 2016 @08:03AM (#53451609)

    Even if they are fire hazards, this isn't right, you no longer own your own devices. I didn't realize I was leasing my fire starter brick :(

    • by Jzanu ( 668651 ) on Friday December 09, 2016 @08:16AM (#53451651)
      Samsung pays for returns. The phones are disabled at the carrier. Otherwise you can keep your brick/bomb. In civilized countries you are not allowed items that endanger the public with no other function.
      • you are not allowed items that endanger the public with no other function.

        How do you get to that conclusion? Clearly it has functions.

        • Paperweight for documents you really don't care about.
          Pocket hand warmer (bandages not included).
          Plate for your Hot Pocket.

        • by Jzanu ( 668651 )
          In active safety recall it has been carrier disabled for faulty hardware. It has no other function.
          • by jareth-0205 ( 525594 ) on Friday December 09, 2016 @09:43AM (#53452107) Homepage

            In active safety recall it has been carrier disabled for faulty hardware. It has no other function.

            Without mobile network access it still has bluetooth, wifi, plays games. It's a fully functioning computer. You're showing a colossal lack of imagination.

            • by Jzanu ( 668651 )
              Yet the device is not designed for that primarily, so there is not loss of targeted functions. This is a mandatory safety recall for the real risk the model poses.
              • This is a mandatory safety recall for the real risk the model poses.

                Nobody disputes that. But the statement:

                It has no other function.

                Is absolutely moronic.

              • Viagra was not designed to improve erections. It was a heart medication with an interesting side effect at first. That does not mean that it has no use. And if you can remote disable devices belonging to other people, that is scary, whatever the reason. Because with that ability, we can always find more reasons.
              • Remove the battery, it is no longer a risk. Its still a very fully featured computer that could be embedded into lots of things. Better than them all going into landfill.
                • by sabri ( 584428 )

                  Remove the battery, it is no longer a risk.

                  You're free to do that. The Samsung update disable the charging capability, that's it. As long as you plug it into a power source, you can use it for your embedded purpose.

              • Yet the device is not designed for that primarily, so there is not loss of targeted functions. This is a mandatory safety recall for the real risk the model poses.

                I argue otherwise. Despite being called a "phone", most people's primary use of their device is not a phone. And even when making calls or messaging, a lot of people use data based apps, not the cellular based comms.

      • by houghi ( 78078 )

        I live in Europe. If I like I can buy swords and guns if I so desire (I don't). The fact that you say "with no other function" is meaningless, because "I bought it and it is mine" is another function.

      • At this point, I suspect most of the people hanging on to theirs are doing so in the hopes that in 20 years it'll be extremely valuable because of its rarity. Trying to disable it over the network is going to accomplish nothing because these units are turned off, packed back in their original box, and sealed in shrink wrap or a ziploc bag.
      • Samsung pays for returns. The phones are disabled at the carrier. Otherwise you can keep your brick/bomb. In civilized countries you are not allowed items that endanger the public with no other function.

        My understanding is that the issue is not the phone but the battery, ie the battery is too densely packed so a fire risk. Couldn't Samsung build a smaller capacity battery so that millions of device can still be safely used?

    • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

      I really hope an owner will challenge this in court. It should NOT be legal for an manufacturer to intentionally damage something they sold you, even if it is in your best interest.

      • by Jzanu ( 668651 ) on Friday December 09, 2016 @08:44AM (#53451779)
        US courts have already ruled the opposite [cpsc.gov]. In 2009 and earlier.
      • Then again they would probably prefer to be in court for that, than for one of their phones causing bodily harm. There is a fair chance they would win, given even the FAA considers it a danger.

        Adding to this that a recent analysis indicates that the battery stress tolerances in the phone are beyond acceptable, it would they work out to be a potentially ticking time bomb.

      • They should be forced to reimburse you the full price of the item they damaged. That will teach them. Oh wait...

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ranton ( 36917 )

          They should be forced to reimburse you the full price of the item they damaged. That will teach them. Oh wait...

          And reimburse you for any cancellation fees for any carrier plans you may have signed up for, and replace your old phone for the same price you traded it in for. Lets not pretend Samsung fully reimbursed their Note 7 customers.

        • You need to look up incidental and consequential damages. Like renewed two year contracts.
          • I don't know why you and your brother post focus so much on phones bought on contract! If you did so then the provider is the seller and the entity with which you have a sale contract and a telecommunications contract or 2-in-one or whatever labels or combinations they come up with. They should be the ones on the hook for making you whole, as opposed to some company from another continent with which you never had a contract to start with.

    • This is the exact logical flip-side of not being able to sign away your various rights, a policy that much (not all) of /. seems to be strongly in favor of.

      For instance, in this case, there's no legal structure ('merican here) that would allow Samsung to propose that you can keep your phone in exchange for a waiver of liability for the defects in the product. So basically, the claim of "I want to own my device" implies that (a) you can turn down their request to swap it for a non-exploding device and (b) th

  • This time, they use it for good, but what when its used for bad?

    • I'm fairly certain it is impossible to have a self-updating OS on a device and also prevent the controller of the self-update process from installing malware. So, I'd say there is nothing wrong with the system at the moment and our rage is best withheld until such time that they actually abuse their power.

      • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Friday December 09, 2016 @09:16AM (#53451941) Homepage

        I'm fairly certain it is impossible to have a self-updating OS on a device and also prevent the controller of the self-update process from installing malware. So, I'd say there is nothing wrong with the system at the moment and our rage is best withheld until such time that they actually abuse their power.

        I think you're putting the cart before the horse here, the question is whether it's okay to have automatically self-updating systems where the company that manufactured it by default has full control over it, regardless of whether the owner actually wants the updates or want to apply them now or if critical security updates are baked into huge system upgrades. It's a big trend but I don't think it's a good trend, tomorrow Microsoft can shut down your computer, Samsung your smart-TV, Google your cell phone, Tesla your car, Kindle your eBook-reader and so on. If you go all IoT or "smart house" pretty much anything you own can shut down because somebody out there wants it to. Granted, we're also quite fucked if the bank freezes our bank accounts and all the utilities shut you off, but we're expanding it to everything. It's another way to hollow out what ownership is and means.

        • I'm not putting the cart before the horse, I'm simply being pragmatic. As long as self-updating phones exist, you cannot prevent the pusher from doing nasty things. If you are worried about nasty things, get a phone that doesn't self update. Or disable the automatic updates (if your carrier has that option). Or download "Package Disabler Pro" and stop the Samsung update service. Or root it. But I think at this point both the carriers and the major vendors seem to be of the opinion that a bunch of unpatched

    • I expect you would have a consumer group or watchdog with which you can lodge a complaint. At least that is how it work in the EU.

    • by CeasedCaring ( 1527717 ) on Friday December 09, 2016 @08:29AM (#53451695)
      You mean like the time Amazon erased "1984" & "Animal Farm" from EVERYONE'S Kindle? http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07... [nytimes.com]
      • by wbr1 ( 2538558 )
        This is not the same in the slightest. While I agree that we need to pay close attention to property rights for consumers, this case makes sense.

        A vendor was selling illegal copies of the works digitally on amazon. The looked as if they had been canned in from paper copies, and the seller did not have rights.

        Amazon pulled the digital copies - from users - AND REFUNDED. Consumers were then free to pick up a real, verified, licensed copy.

        This was not censorship on Amazon's part, and in some ways was pro

  • by onyxruby ( 118189 ) <onyxruby&comcast,net> on Friday December 09, 2016 @08:10AM (#53451635)

    An actual case where the manufacturer is disabling the product in the best interest of the public. Who knows when we'll see it's like again. Someday you'll get to tell your kids about the day this happened...

    • An actual case where the manufacturer is disabling the product in the best interest of the public. Who knows when we'll see it's like again. Someday you'll get to tell your kids about the day this happened...

      When you ask?

      It is unfortunate that I see the rising "value" of mass censorship as being heralded as some kind of good thing these days, so I see this type of tool coming soon to a Freedom near you, gift-wrapped in pretty best-interest paper...

      • When you ask?

        It is unfortunate that I see the rising "value" of mass censorship as being heralded as some kind of good thing these days

        Wibble, wibble. Regulations are what separates civilised society from the jungle.

        so I see this type of tool coming soon to a Freedom near you, gift-wrapped in pretty best-interest paper...

        Real freedom means someone stronger and faster than you gets to kill you and take your stuff at will. You think that is a better situation?

    • An actual case where the manufacturer is disabling the product in the best interest of the public.

      In their own interest. If more of their ridiculous phones explode, the lawsuits that Samsung would have to deal with would be epic.

      • by dstyle5 ( 702493 ) on Friday December 09, 2016 @12:58PM (#53453367)
        How is this not in the public's best interest? I certainly don't want to be in a hotel, apartment building, at work, on public transit, etc. with some dumbass who has steadfastly refused to return their phone and poses a risk to me and others. Even driving to work some idiot might panic if the phone starts on fire and cause a car accident. This is most definitely in the public's best interest and should've happened sooner, IMHO.
  • Samsung may permanently disable Galaxy Note 7 Phones before the phones designed by Samsung permanently disable themselves.

  • Interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nehumanuscrede ( 624750 ) on Friday December 09, 2016 @08:12AM (#53451647)

    -tinfoilhat-

    It does make you think a bit that if they have this ability, what's to keep any carrier from nudging down the percentage your phone will charge it's battery over time with each update ? With most batteries soldered in place, it would be a fantastic way to force folks to buy a new phone.

    Crazy idea ? Of course it is, then again VW got caught red handed cheating the emissions systems via software. Remember, where money is involved, there is no limit to what companies are willing to do.

    While I understand that batteries degrade over time, now I'm curious if it's truly the battery that's giving out or if the folks wanting to sell you more phones have a hand in it.

    -/tinfoilhat-

    • If the technology exists to be used in an altruistic way, it exists to be exploited in malevolent fashion.

      There is little doubt this ability has been or will be exploited, and don't forget, extensive and intrusive government surveillance was discounted as tin-hatter prior to Edward Snowden.

    • No tinfoil hat needed. I used to run printer ink cartridges until they ran dry. No big deal. Just change the cartridge and reprint the last half-printed page. Either it was after an update or purchasing a new printer, I forget, but suddenly the printer was the one deciding when the ink had to be changed, refusing to print in any color until it was. Considering the last paged printed was fine, I assume there was at least some ink left. (That was a few years ago, and it was the last inkjet printer I own
      • by cdrudge ( 68377 )

        It depends on how the ink cartridge/print head is designed. Some ink cartridges have the print head built in. Since you typically throw them away when they are empty, running them dry and damaging them isn't really much of a concern.

        If the print head assembly is separate from the ink tank, running them dry can result in clogged jets or transfer pads. They might be recoverable if replacement ink is added to dissolve the dried ink. Or it can result in more expensive replacement parts.

    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      To me VW passed the tests. To me the tests where at fault. And this was possible all along. You get updates for your phone on a regular basis, sop they can introduce any code they desire.
      But why do that with updates? Just program it in from the beginning. Make it crash when it is EOL+2months.

    • by guruevi ( 827432 )

      That's exactly why we need open source software. I'm a long time iOS user (for usability reasons) but anything I'm hanging my business on in form of mobile has to be either pure Linux or AOSP-capable Android. I'm even thinking about upgrading out of the iDevice for personal items given that Android 8 or 9 gets a usable input mechanism and AOSP hardware without ANY capacitive buttons (hardware buttons like iOS don't get triggered by hovering over them).

      Yes, I do compile my own Android and will send back the

  • I never understood their decisions...why disable the phone when you can redesign the battery to not blow up and just swap batteries? I mean the battery is a removable part.
    • Not outside of a workshop, these days.
    • Re:Really? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Friday December 09, 2016 @08:43AM (#53451773) Journal

      I never understood their decisions...why disable the phone when you can redesign the battery to not blow up and just swap batteries? I mean the battery is a removable part.

      They actually gave the battery angle [ap.org] a look for a quick fix, but since they had abandoned the easily removable battery, the initial solution was to limit recharging to 60% of maximum via update.

      Now, is the ingrained ability to limit charging capacity a little suspicious?

    • Re:Really? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Friday December 09, 2016 @09:30AM (#53452023)

      I never understood their decisions...why disable the phone when you can redesign the battery to not blow up and just swap batteries? I mean the battery is a removable part.

      Apparently the battery is too big physically for the space allotted for it. Batteries expand when heated/charged. A teardown revealed this https://www.cnet.com/news/gala... [cnet.com] (beware, the assholes have an autoplaying video.

      This is all redolent of the marketing issues I've often spoke about with phones. "Users need longer battery life! Users need thinner phones! Users need wireless charging!"

      Size and battery capacity are opposing traits. And while compressing a Li based battery of high energy density is never a good idea, they designed a phone that did just that. reducing the margin of error to no margin of error, and when you get a positive feedback loop like a battery expanding with nowhere to go, yet getting hotter and expanding more, you get the Galaxy Note 7 phone.

      So if they did replace the battery with a new one of proper size, it would not have as much capacity, so marketing would be pissed.

  • Then plug it in - will it charge? On some of my older HTC phones I would turn them off when I charged them when I had some place to be because it was significantly faster.

    Then, sometime during all of this, install a non-standard ROM. I've used Cyanogen Mod and Fresh Evo in the past, I'm sure there's a non-Samsung ROM you could put on the thing. That way you have plenty of opportunity to have the thing explode on your own terms.

    • by Harlequin80 ( 1671040 ) on Friday December 09, 2016 @08:53AM (#53451807)

      Normally a fully charged LIPO cell is 4.8v and a fully used lipo cell is at 3.3v. The charging circuit inside the phone will have somewhere a variable set to 4.8v as max cell voltage and that will be where it stops charging the battery. It should be pretty trivial to change that to 3.3v and hence the phone will no longer charge the battery.

      You can't dumb charge lipos. If you keep shoving amps into them they will overcharge and go pop. So even if the phone is powered down when plugged into a power source the charging controller would have to be active.

    • by Mascot ( 120795 )

      My guess would be the answer is no. There seems to be a fair amount of software involved in charging these days. iDevices turn on fully the moment you plug them in, while several generations of my Android devices take a while before they turn on the display to show charging status from a powered down state. I'm guessing whatever they are doing to disable charging, goes into whatever piece of software is running while the device is charging.

      But, as I said, that's just a guess. I'm sure someone in the comment

  • They're going to make the phones self-destruct.

  • It has other more explosive devices in the pipeline with which it will no doubt rekindle the public's burning desire to buy Samsung products.
  • First off this no-charge strategy is not confirmed.

    Second what Samsung has been doing til now was installing nag screens and limiting battery charging to sixty percent. I'd be surprised if the US is the first country where they roll out no-charging. All their other methods were first launched in smaller markets.

    Thirdly it is interesting they're supposedly software shutting-down the handsets and not simply denying them service. It'd be trivial to place every Note 7 on the blacklist maintained by US carriers for stolen devices.

    Of course denying service means the devices are unreachable, so this might be the step before that, to ensure they're not kept around as wifi devices or fancy alarm clocks. Blocking the battery means they're effectively defanged - no charge means no chance of fire.

    In my part of the world I haven't seen a Note 7 in weeks. I expect when a clerk points out a Note 7 is keeping a known fire hazard next to their genitals, or in their purse-of-important-stuff, or holding it to their face is asking for trouble, or charging it in their bedroom while sleeping is really scary, and insurance will no longer cover it's damages, the sane ones figure it's time to trade-in.

  • Given the small numbers of fires so far and the fact that they already limited charging, this makes me think that they now believe the problem will get worse over time—i.e. it's not just that a few units are affected by the poor design choice with battery tolerances, when exposed to just the right conditions, but that EVERY unit has an elevated likelihood of going up in smoke over time, i.e. the ticking time bomb phenomenon.

    "We've analyzed their attack sir, and there is a danger."

    Otherwise, this would

    • Not really. A single major incident could cost them a million or more in liability. If there are only 100,000 (of the 5M manufactured) in the wild, and they continue to have problems at the original 1/200000 per month, that's 6 potential liability claims a year on a product with no revenue. They're offering a full refund, token refunds of accessories, and $25 in "we're sorry" cash. Aside from being a stubborn asshole, there's no real reason to keep them.

  • by bool2 ( 1782642 ) on Friday December 09, 2016 @10:21AM (#53452289) Homepage
    Given the safety implications, they would want to minimise the chance of anyone disabling updates so I wouldn't be surprised if they have already modified the software and this is notice that 15th December (or 6 days of runtime) is already baked in as a date of death.

    At least, they should have done that.
  • Looking for a way to satisfy the balance of safety vs. ownership. Would it be enough to:
    - limit charging to some maximum percentage (maybe 80%)
    - limit the charging rate (no fast charging)
    - limit the amount of time per charge (with some enforced delay between charging periods)
  • ref: http://www.theverge.com/circui... [theverge.com]

    "In October, Samsung announced a voluntary recall of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 when it was discovered that all available devices could overheat and pose a safety risk to customers. Since that time, a vast majority of Verizon customers who purchased the Note 7 have replaced their phones with other models.

    Today, Samsung announced an update to the Galaxy Note 7 that would stop the smartphone from charging, rendering it useless unless attached t

  • ... according to Samsung [samsung.com].

You can tune a piano, but you can't tuna fish. You can tune a filesystem, but you can't tuna fish. -- from the tunefs(8) man page

Working...