As Samsung prepares to unfold its new phones, the Galaxy S8 and S8+, it seems like the mobile giant is gearing for a tech Hail Mary as well. In a statement released by the Samsung Newsroom, the company declared considering the controversial Galaxy Note 7 to be used as "refurbished phones or rental phones where applicable."
Samsung recently laid out their plans for the recalled exploding mobile phones, ensuring that the device would be "recycled and processed in an environmentally-friendly manner." Aside from considering refurbishing the recalled phones, Samsung also aims to salvage components that can be reused, and metals to be extracted using environmentally friendly methods.
At the recently concluded Mobile World Congress (MWC 2017) held in Spain, Samsung was put in hot water by environmental activists regarding the fate of the Note 7 mobile phones that are currently in storage.
It can be recalled that Samsung had produced 4.3 million Galaxy Note 7 phones last year. According to a report from the environmental activist organization Greenpeace, 1.8 million units were sold in 10 countries, including South Korea, USA, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates and China. Numerous reports of explosions caused by the mobile phone led to a mass recall by the tech giant. Greenpeace stressed that the phones contained rare and precious minerals like gold, cobalt, and tungsten, which could be recovered and reused instead of being thrown away. The organization called on Samsung to reveal its plans regarding the disposal of the recalled Note 7.
"Regarding the Galaxy Note 7 devices as refurbished phones or rental phones, applicability is dependent upon consultations with regulatory authorities and carriers as well as due consideration of local demand. The markets and release dates will be determined accordingly," the official statement revealed.
Samsung added that the components of the remaining Galaxy Note 7 devices like semiconductors and camera modules will be detached by specialized companies who could use the scraps for test sample production purposes.
The Galaxy Note 7 is Samsung's huge booboo of 2016. The exploding mobile phones cost the company an estimated $3 billion in profits in the last quarter. It also caused Samsung's share price to go down 10 percent, which wiped more than $18 billion off its market cap. To add insult to the injury, the Note 7 was and is still currently being banned from airlines by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Airlines based outside of the United States followed suit and banned the exploding device onboard as well.
It took quite some time for the world's largest smartphone manufacturer to discover the cause of what should've been Samsung's most impressive mobile of 2016. Samsung hired "respected industry analysts" to make an independent investigation on the case of the Note 7 as well. During the investigation, repeated charge and discharge tests were performed on the three advanced features of the mobile phone: fast charging, wireless charging and water resistance. Moreover, tests were run on preloaded and downloaded third-party apps to check if software was the culprit.
When "none of the tests demonstrated abnormality or correlation to the reported incidents," Samsung then subjected thousands of Note 7 devices to repeated charge and discharge tests. It is here that the company concluded the cause to be the battery cells themselves. It was discovered that the faulty batteries were supplied by two different companies: Samsung SDI and Amperex Technology.
Samsung's plan to refurbish the Galaxy Note 7 came as a surprise as the timing couldn't be more risky. The Galaxy S8 and S8+ will be released in the U.S. on Wednesday, and this is expected to take back loyal Samsung customers with the lure of the new smartphone's more advanced features. Aside from having a 6.2-inch AMOLED display, the Galaxy S8+ will be powered by the Snapdragon 835—the industry's most powerful chipset to date. There are also rumors that the powerful smartphone will come with the Samsung DeX or Desktop Experience, which is a piece of hardware that can connect to the Galaxy S8. This hardware will enable the device to connect to an external display, turning the mobile phone into—quite impressively—a mobile workstation. Whether these features will really be part of the Galaxy S8 and S8+ remains to be seen. Watch out as Samsung unveils its flagship phone on March 29.
[Featured Image by George Frey/Getty Images]