Samsung is not one to let recalled phones go to waste — even fire-prone ones — and has refurbished hundreds of thousands of Galaxy Note 7 devices for resale. The smartphone maker previously said it was investigating ways to recycle the Note 7 in an environmentally conscious way, after it had initially agreed to destroying every remaining unit. Here is everything we know about the plan.
Where and when will it be sold?
The Galaxy Note Fan Edition, as it’s been named, has just gone on sale in South Korea for the equivalent of $610, or 699,600 won, according to the Korea Herald. That’s well over $200 less than the price of the original model.
The release has hopefully put the Note 7 saga to rest once and for all, though you won’t see it in the United States or India. Samsung said prior to launch it will “decide later” if it will sell the Fan Edition elsewhere in the world — though those two regions have been specifically ruled out. The company has designated 400,000 units for sale across South Korea’s three mobile carriers.
This is not the first time Samsung has sold a refurbished phone in its home country, ETNews reports, and it doesn’t require government approval to do so. However, it still needs to pass safety checks with authorities. The July release could help Samsung bridge the gap between the release of the Galaxy S8 and any subsequent release of the rumored Galaxy Note 8, likely to come in September or soon afterwards. The period is traditionally quiet for smartphone sales in South Korea, according to ETNews.
What will change?
In putting the Note 7 back on the market, the most obvious change Samsung has had to make is stopping it from catching fire. To do this, the battery has been reduced in capacity from 3,500mAh to 3,200mAh, according to a report from ETNews. The Note 7’s battery was squeezed into the original device, which was one of the primary causes of the fires, so a smaller cell should avoid this.
It may not be the only internal component changed, and while a late June 2017 Wall Street Journal report doesn’t go into specifics, it does pluralize the word “components,” indicating more than the battery may be altered. Additionally, ETNews has stated the phablet will feature Bixby, the company’s new virtual assistant, as seen on the Galaxy S8.
Otherwise, Samsung says it has used only “unopened and unused” parts in shipping out these devices again, according to Neowin. Spec-wise it’s pretty much the same as the original Note 7: A 5.7-inch Quad HD display shielded in Gorilla Glass 5, Exynos 8890 system-on-chip, 4GB of RAM with 64GB of internal storage, 12-megapixel rear camera with optical image stabilization and phase detection autofocus, and, of, course, S-Pen support.
Rumors had previously spread about the plan, but Samsung confirmed its intention in a statement released at the end of March 2017. It said 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.
It’s not intending to unleash millions of refurbished phones immediately though. Samsung says it will work with local authorities and carriers in markets where it intends to sell the devices, ensuring not only that there is demand, but also the new Note 7 phones pass regulatory checks. This is time consuming, and will affect any eventual release date.
Environmental activists have urged Samsung to recycle the millions of Note 7 devices consumers returned after the recall. It’s a hot enough topic that members of Greenpeace interrupted a Samsung news conference at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona to get the message across.
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.”
We’ll keep you updated if the Galaxy Note Fan Edition releases elsewhere.
Update: Added news that the Galaxy Note Fan Edition has launched in South Korea.