As Samsung prepares to replace potentially explosive Galaxy Note 7 phones with new versions, it seems the company is considering new ways help Note owners know whether their device is safe or not. Now it appears a visual change to the phone's software may reassure Note 7 owners (and possibly airlines, aviation authorities and others) that their phones are safe.
New, safe Galaxy Note 7 handsets will use green battery icons, as opposed to the standard white, ZDNet's Cho Mu-Hyun reports from Seoul. It's unclear whether the green hue will apply at all times, or just when the phone is charging. It's also not known whether the change will apply to all "safe" Note 7s globally, or just in Korea; we've reached out to Samsung for further info. AC's Russell Holly, who exchanged his Note 7 as part of the U.S. replacement program, sees the standard white battery icon on his phone, even when charging.
Earlier this week it emerged that Samsung will limit unsafe Korean Galaxy Note 7s to 60 percent battery charge though a software update. Samsung has yet to clarify whether this OTA will apply to Notes outside of Korea.
No bureaucrat is going to deal with 'Note 7 Exploding Version' vs 'Note 7 Non Exploding Version.'
The new battery icon, if it becomes widespread, highlights the problem Samsung (and its customers) will face in proving that their phones are the "safe" versions. In the past week, most of the world's major aviation authorities have told passengers not to use or charge their Galaxy Note 7s onboard planes, while also excluding the phone from being carried in the hold of aircraft. Yesterday New York's MTA and New Jersey Transit told rail and bus travelers not to use the phone in transit, citing battery explosion fears.
The nightmare scenario for Samsung — and Note 7 owners who frequently travel — is that the phone will be permanently tarred as "unsafe," even after the recall process has been completed. PCMag's Sascha Segan summed up the predicament in recent tweet: "No bureaucrat is going to deal with 'Note 7 Exploding Version' vs 'Note 7 Non Exploding Version.' Easier to just ban them all," after suggesting it might be easier for Samsung to just rename the "safe" version of the phone as "Note 7S."
However things pan out, it's clear Samsung's Note 7 woes are far from over. The company will begin swapping out potentially unsafe Korean handsets with replacement units from September 19.