THE REMAINING owners of the highly flammable Samsung Galaxy Note 7 will have their devices remotely killed from 19 December when an over-the-air update will prevent their devices from charging.
The aim is to flush out recalcitrant owners of the discontinued devices and force them to get them changed or refunded before they cause a Great Fire of London type of situation. Indeed, taking a Galaxy Note 7 on a flight anywhere in the US could land the owner with a $180,000 fine.
Samsung revealed its cunning plan in an update to its US-wide recall.
"Consumer safety remains our highest priority," it burbled, and went on to claim that 93 per cent of Galaxy Note 7 devices had so been returned.
It continued: "To further increase participation, a software update will be released starting on December 19th that will prevent US Galaxy Note 7 devices from charging and will eliminate their ability to work as mobile devices.
"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 recall urged.
Samsung recalled some 2.5 million Note 7 handsets worldwide just one month after its launch at the beginning of August. The company subsequently discontinued the device when it became clear that it couldn't simply swap out faulty parts.
In its attempt to build a feature-packed but slim and stylish device, the tightly glued-in lithium batteries lacked the space to swell, as all lithium batteries naturally do during normal operations.
As a result, in some devices this natural process causes the thin sheet separating the positive and negative parts of the battery to fail. When this happens, the device shorts, the battery rapidly heats up and, ultimately, can burst into flames.
Even if the devices haven't or don't go up in flames, the external pressure exerted by the natural swelling of the battery might cause Note 7s to fall apart in time.
Blame for the debacle has been laid firmly at the door of Samsung for pursuing a policy of "aggressive design", with some researchers suggesting that the company knowingly shipped a dangerous product.
Samsung isn't the first company to experience such problems with Lithium-ion batteries. Sony was forced into a major recall in 2006, while Nokia (remember them?) had to recall 46 million phone batteries at risk of short circuiting in 2009. µ
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