Burning love: Loyal owners won't return the Galaxy Note 7, so Samsung is making sure the phone sucks

Samsung is now taking bold steps to get the defective Galaxy Note 7 smartphone out of consumers hands

Published October 26, 2016 6:50PM (EDT)

A damaged Samsung Galaxy Note 7.   (AP/Shawn L. Minter)
A damaged Samsung Galaxy Note 7. (AP/Shawn L. Minter)

Despite a much-publicized factory defect in which the smartphone catches fire and a subsequent recall, owners of Galaxy Note 7 are not returning their smartphones. So Samsung is creating another incentive for them to do so, by making the flawed phones perform worse.

Samsung is releasing a new software update that will limit the battery charge to 60 percent of its full capacity. "The update is the latest measure taken by the company to reduce customer risk and simultaneously drive all remaining Galaxy Note 7 customers in Europe to replace their device immediately," Samsung announced in a press release. Although two-thirds of the Galaxy Note 7 devices in Europe have already been replaced, many customers are happy with their phones and refuse to return them despite the multiple recalls.

This is the second time Samsung has tried this approach, with the first effort occurring on September 13. Samsung’s recall was issued earlier that month in a move that has since been criticized for bypassing the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s regulators.

The Galaxy Note 7 was notorious for catching on fire because of a defect in the batteries. Cellular phones use lithium ion battery packs for power. These batteries contain highly flammable liquid, so if the battery short-circuits due to a puncture in the sheet of plastic separating the positive and negative sides, electricity flows through the puncture point and heats up the liquid. If this happens too quickly, the battery will explode.

Galaxy Note 7 explosions have so far been linked to fires in a house, a hotel room, a jeep, a garage, and a nightstand.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a professional writer whose work has appeared in multiple national media outlets since 2012 and exclusively at Salon since 2016. His diverse interests are reflected in his interview, including: President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981), Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak (1999-2001), animal scientist and autism activist Temple Grandin, inventor Ernő Rubik, comedian Bill Burr ("F Is for Family"), novelist James Patterson ("The President's Daughter"), epidemiologist Monica Gandhi, theoretical cosmologist Janna Levin, voice actor Rob Paulsen ("Animaniacs"), mRNA vaccine pioneer Katalin Karikó, philosopher of science Vinciane Despret, actor George Takei ("Star Trek"), climatologist Michael E. Mann, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (2013-present), dog cognition researcher Alexandra Horowitz, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson (2012, 2016), comedian and writer Larry Charles ("Seinfeld"), Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman (2000), Ambassador Michael McFaul (2012-2014), economist Richard Wolff, director Kevin Greutert ("Saw VI"), model Liskula Cohen, actor Rodger Bumpass ("SpongeBob Squarepants"), Senator John Hickenlooper (2021-present), Senator Martin Heinrich (2013-present), Egyptologist Richard Parkinson, Rep. Eric Swalwell (2013-present), media entrepreneur Dan Abrams, actor R. J. Mitte ("Breaking Bad"), theoretical physicist Avi Loeb, biologist and genomics entrepreneur William Haseltine, comedian David Cross ("Scary Movie 2"), linguistics consultant Paul Frommer ("Avatar"), Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (2007-2015), computer engineer and Internet co-inventor Leonard Kleinrock and right-wing insurrectionist Roger Stone.

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Recalls Samsung Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Smartphone