The Note 7 isn't dead yet. Samsung is considering selling refurbished units of the ill-fated phone in select markets later this year.
Samsung’s not one to let recalled phones go to waste — even fire-prone ones. On Monday, the South Korea smartphone maker announced that it was considering selling refurbished versions of the Galaxy Note 7 in select markets.
In a statement, Samsung said that some of its existing Note 7s would be “considered to be used as refurbished or rental phones,” while others would be subjected to recycling processes that will extract metals like copper, nickel, gold, and silver from the phone’s components. “The objective of introducing refurbished devices is solely to reduce and minimize any environmental impact,” the company said.
According to South Korea’s Electronic Times, Samsung will begin selling refurbished Note 7s in its home country in July or August, and aims to sell between 400,000 and 500,000.
The Galaxy Note 7, you may recall, had a tendency to catch fire, which prompted the recall of 4.3 million devices, the largest in smartphone industry history. It also led airlines and regulators to ban the Note 7 from airplanes, and cost the company $5.5 billion in lost sales. Samsung released a refurbished batch of units after the initial recall, but issues also up cropped with them, forcing the firm to cancel Note 7 sales altogether.
A subsequent investigation found manufacturing problems in batteries supplied by Samsung’s SDI division and a third-party Chinese supplier, Amperex Technology.
“This is one of those decisions that make you stop and scratch your head,” Bryan Ma, vice president for device research at research firm IDC, told The New York Times. “The last thing they need in the run-up to the S8 launch is another reminder to the world about what happened with the Note 7.”
Environmental activists have urged Samsung to recycle the millions of Note 7 devices consumers returned after the recall. Members of Greenpeace interrupted a Samsung news conference at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona earlier this year.
In a statement, the activist group said it welcomed Samsung’s decision to recycle some phones, and urged the company to carry out its plans in a “verifiable” manner. “Samsung’s announcement is the first step to show its effort to set a new path for recycling smartphones starting with Note 7s,” Greenpeace wrote in a blog post. “Greenpeace will make sure Samsung takes into account the voice of millions of our supporters and abides by its commitment.”
Samsung is betting on a new device to turn things around: The Galaxy S8. On Wednesday, Samsung announced its first flagship device since the ill-fated Note 7. It features Bixby, an artificially intelligent assistant that can recognize real-world objects and understand voice commands, and an edge-to-edge curved screen.