Samsung Electronics is pushing ahead with its last resort to retrieve all remaining Galaxy Note 7 smartphones from its key markets, including the United States, disabling charging of the ill-fated devices via a software update.
The move is aimed at putting an end to lingering safety risks of the handset after it was recalled two months ago following continuous reports over its batteries catching fire while charging.
The latest in a series of recharging restrictions came from Samsung Electronics America where 1.9 million Note 7 devices were sold after it debuted in the global market in mid-August.
“To further increase participation (for the Note 7 refund and exchange program), a software update will be released starting on Dec. 19 that will prevent U.S. Galaxy Note 7 devices from charging and will eliminate their ability to work as mobile devices,” the U.S. subsidiary of the world’s largest smartphone vendor said in a recent statement.
In the U.S., Samsung has so far recalled 93 percent of all Note 7 devices, but it explained the latest measure was taken to guarantee 100 percent safety from threats of unreturned handsets.
This came days after the company announced it would implement the same measures in other global markets such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand where the software update will deactivate major services of the device _ including battery recharging, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
In Canada, Note 7 users will not be able to access basic mobile services to make phone calls, send texts or use data, which will be effective on Dec. 15, according to Samsung Electronics.
“We strongly urge any customers still using the Note 7 to return their device for a refund or exchange between Dec. 7 and Dec. 15,” the Canadian subsidiary of Samsung said last week. “We will continue to communicate daily with a push notification about this network deactivation event to ensure they continue to receive adequate notice.”
Samsung has yet to announce whether it will adopt the same measure for the Korean market, but hinted at the possibility by saying: “We are considering conducting additional software updates here _ including restrictions on battery charges.”
The firm sold 500,000 Note 7 devices in Korea, the second-highest following the U.S. market. Some 80 percent of all recalled Note 7s here have so far been returned as of Dec. 11, according to Samsung.
In October, Samsung recalled 3 million Note 7s sold in 10 countries amid growing controversy over its unconfirmed battery fires. The firm then launched replacement Note 7s with what it called safe batteries. But Samsung soon permanently halted its production and sales over continuous reports that the new devices which were considered safe were also catching fire.
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