Samsung wants to deactivate all Galaxy Note7s; Verizon says 'no'

Samsung is set to release an update that brick all remaining Galaxy Note7 devices in the US, further prompting users to return them. Verizon is refusing to push the update.


Unlike Verizon, ATT hasn't commented on whether or not it will participate in the update.

Image: Josh Miller/CNET

A software update set to be released on December 19, 2016, will effectively brick all remaining Samsung Galaxy Note7 devices in the US, Samsung announced on Friday. According to the official recall page, the update will "prevent U.S. Galaxy Note7 devices from charging and will eliminate their ability to work as mobile devices."

A few weeks after the initial launch of the Samsung Galaxy Note7, reports started coming in claiming that the batteries in the device could overheat and explode. Samsung released an OTA update to cap the battery life on the device and issued its own recall, before the US government stepped in and issued an additional recall.

Samsung stopped production of the device, officially, and gave users the option for a refund, or to swap it for another Samsung device. After following a complicated five-step process, most users opted to give the phone back.

SEE: Samsung Galaxy Note7 replacement devices still at risk of overheating

While Samsung did initially begin manufacturing replacement devices during the beginning of the debacle, those devices experienced the same battery issues that led to overheating. As such, Samsung launched an official recall page that has been updated as the story has unfolded.

"If you have not yet returned your device, you should immediately power it down and contact your carrier to obtain a refund or exchange," the page reads.

According to the page, more than 93% of the Galaxy Note7 devices that were purchased have been returned to Samsung. However, many users chose to continue using the device, despite the safety warnings.

This is where Samsung is likely hoping the update will help--force the holdouts to finally give up their devices. There's just one problem with that strategy--Samsung needs the carriers help to push the update. And Verizon, one of the largest US carriers, isn't on board with the plan.

In an official Verizon statement, released shortly after Samsung added the plans for the update to its recall page, Verizon's vice president of global corporate communications, Jeffrey Nelson, explained that the company would not release the update. As Nelson wrote:

"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."

Understandably, this puts Samsung in a tricky predicament. While safety risks persist for Galaxy Note7 users, there isn't much Samsung can do without help from the network carrier that provides service for the device.

What do you think?

Should Verizon honor the update? Will you keep using your Samsung Galaxy Note7? Tell us in the comments.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Samsung will issue an update on December 19 that will eliminate the charging capabilities of the remaining Galaxy Note7 devices, rendering them useless.
  2. The Galaxy Note7 smartphone was officially recalled by the US government, but many users continue to use it.
  3. Verizon, a major US carrier, has refused to participate in the update, claiming that it would create additional problems for users.

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