Samsung appears to be planning to permanently disable Galaxy Note 7 units in the US with an update that would prevent the recalled phone from charging.
According to an image obtained by The Verge, an alert went out to at least one Note 7 owner on US 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.”
Samsung declined to comment, and US Cellular did not respond to a request for comment.
It’s not clear whether Note 7s will be disabled across the major US 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, AT&T, and other carriers within a matter of days. That’s probably what’ll happen here, as well.
Samsung began limiting Note 7s in the US last month, placing restrictions that stop the phone from charging past 60 percent. The update also made a pop-up appear every time the phone’s screen was turned on, reminding the owner that the phone has been recalled and needed to be returned.
But this week, Samsung began detailing more severe measures to get the final phones out of customers’ hands. In Canada, it’s rendering the phone mostly useless by disabling Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, as well as cell and data service — it won’t be able to make a call or access the internet in any way.
One last attempt to recover Note 7s
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.
Samsung first recalled the Note 7 in mid-September after it was discovered that multiple units were catching fire; it then recalled replacement Note 7 units in mid-October, after it was discovered that they too were prone to overheating.
As of November 4th, when Samsung last provided an update, 85 percent of Note 7s sold in the US 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.