Samsung is investigating the possibility of selling a portion of the millions of recalled Note 7 handsets, pulled back last year after a battery fault led to handsets catching fire.
The move is part of Samsung’s effort to cope with the vast quantity of recalled devices in an “environmentally friendly” manner, following pressure from environmental groups such as Greenpeace to manage the fallout with ecological sensitivity – i.e. not dumping four million broken phones and dusting off their hands like a cartoon character.
Samsung has said it’s considering the potential to refurbish the phones, or to sell them as rental devices. Another plan involves breaking apart the devices, then recycling components and precious metals.
“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,” Samsung said in a statement. “The markets and release dates will be determined accordingly.”
Greenpeace has campaigned for Samsung to clarify its plans for the recall, and to ensure that it’s addressing the debacle’s environmental impact. Samsung’s announcement has therefore been taken as a victory for the group.
“While we welcome this news, Samsung must share as soon as possible more detailed timelines on when it will implement its promises, as well as how it intends to change its production system to make sure this never happens again,” Greenpeace East Asia campaigner Jude Lee told the BBC.
While the company’s plans to recycle and refurbish its Note 7 leftovers are being applauded by environmental groups, the timing is slightly odd given that the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus are expected to launch this week. Samsung has been vocal in its apologies for last year’s fiasco over the Note 7, but the upcoming flagship announcement is being taken as a line in the sand – a chance for the company to redirect attention to its shiny new products, not its past failures.
As Samsung’s statement explains, the company will need to measure local demand before deciding where refurbished Note 7 handsets could surface. Previous reports have suggested Samsung will look into selling the (newly non-flammable) devices to emerging markets such as India and Vietnam.
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