Samsung has encouraged the return of 93% of the 1.9 million recalled Galaxy Note 7s since the second recall was issued on October 13. That's a lot of phones, but that still means there are over 130,000 units still to be recovered, many of which could have defective batteries.
Samsung America, as a way of persuading those obstinate holdouts, will issue a software update beginning December 19 to cut off all remaining power and radio connectivity to those devices. In other words, after the mandatory firmware patch, the phones won't charge or connect to any cellular networks — even Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. A press release states:
To further increase participation, a software update will be released starting on December 19th and will be distributed within 30 days. This software update will prevent U.S. Galaxy Note7 devices from charging and will eliminate their ability to work as mobile devices.
Together with our carrier partners, we will be notifying consumers through multiple touchpoints to encourage any remaining Galaxy Note7 owners to participate in the program and to take advantage of the financial incentives available.
This is the true end for the disastrous Note 7, as the phone's largest market finally resorts to crippling the phone. Users can get information for a full refund or exchange for another Galaxy device at Samsung's dedicated recall portal.
Similar actions were taken in New Zealand and Canada, and will likely be replicated in all markets the phone was launched.
Verizon has issued a statement saying that it will not release the above update because it may impact the ability of some Note 7 users to connect over the holiday period:
Today, Samsung announced an update to the Galaxy Note7 that would stop the smartphone from charging, rendering it useless unless attached to a power charger. Verizon will not be taking part in this update because of the added risk this could pose to Galaxy Note7 users that do not have another device to switch to. 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.
Verizon and Samsung have communicated the need for customers with a Note7 to immediately stop using their devices and return or exchange it where they purchased it. Verizon customers with the Note7 have several options, including an additional $100 from Samsung when purchasing one of their other devices.
Sprint, on the other hand, says it will push the update beginning January 8:
To drive increased participation in its U.S. Note7 Refund and Exchange Program, Samsung will release a software update beginning on January 8, 2017 that will disable all remaining Sprint Note7 devices from being able to hold a charge. This software update will eliminate the ability of these Galaxy Note7 to work as mobile devices.
At the time of writing, T-Mobile and AT&T have yet to issue statements.
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