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Samsung has a stop-gap fix for the Note 7 problem: OTA update to limit charge to 60%
Here’s how Samsung wants to stop Galaxy Note 7’s from catching fire and causing injuries and property damage.
Samsung is currently working on an OTA update for the Galaxy Note 7 that would permanently limit the capacity of the battery to 60%. In other words, following the update, devices will stop charging when reaching 60% of their battery capacity. Presumably, this will keep the battery’s energy density at a safe level and prevent the short-circuit phenomenon that Samsung pinpointed as the culprit for the wave of Note 7 fires and explosions.
According to the Associated Press, Samsung has put up an advertisement in Seoul Shinmun, a major South Korean newspaper announcing the plan. The company is working with Korean carriers to prepare the update, which is planned to begin rolling out from September 20. The Korea Times speculates that the update will also urge users to turn in their phones for the recall.
“It is a measure to put consumer safety first but we apologize for causing inconvenience,” the company said.
It’s not clear if and when the update will be rolled out in other markets.
This measure is meant for users who fail to return their devices for the recall. New devices with safe batteries won’t have this limitation. Shipments of replacements for the affected Note 7 units will begin from September 19.
Samsung’s stop-gap solution would nominally limit the Note 7’s battery capacity to around 2,100 mAh, which would keep them serviceable for people who insist on using their phones. That said, Samsung is clearly just trying to prevent any more overheating incidents, of which 70 have been recorded in the United States alone. The measure comes after dozens of airlines from around the world have banned the use of the Note 7 on board their flights. Consumer safety authorities from US, Canada, and other countries got involved, prompting Samsung to urge customers to power down their Note 7 and return them immediately.
Samsung previously denied it would remotely disable Note 7 units with faulty batteries.
The torrent of bad publicity is taking its toll on Samsung’s reputation, just as Apple is launching its iPhone 7. Investors are worried, but the long-term damage could come from the loss of consumer confidence in Samsung products in general.