Earlier today, Samsung announced that it will disable all remaining Galaxy Note 7 devices via a software update, to be rolled out on December 19th. The company sees the update as vital for consumer protection, to make sure that no one continues using the potentially flammable devices.
But Verizon, in its infinite wisdom, has decided that the threat of fire is secondary to being stuck without a phone, and won’t be pushing the software update to its customers.
In a statement, Verizon Vice President Jeffrey Nelson said that “Verizon will not be taking part in this update because of the added risk this could pose to Galaxy Note7 users that do not have another device to switch to. We will not push a software upgrade that will eliminate the ability for the Note7 to work as a mobile device in the heart of the holiday travel season. We do not want to make it impossible to contact family, first responders or medical professionals in an emergency situation.”
This follows the flawless logic that before smartphones, everyone died all the time because they couldn’t communicate. It also misses the point that if flying was part of your holiday travel plans, you won’t be able to take your Galaxy Note 7 with you anyway.
Yes, having your phone suddenly bricked would be a massive inconvenience. But in this case, it’s not exactly unwarranted or unexpected. Galaxy Note 7 owners have had months to exchange faulty devices for a full refund or alternative device at any of Verizon’s many, many stores.
According to Samsung’s data, only 7 percent of Galaxy Note 7 devices sold in the US remain in the wild. Some of those are undoubtedly powered off in a drawer somewhere, and the owners just haven’t made it to a store yet. But some users have decided to ignore the very real danger of using the devices, rationalizing that the likelihood of it catching fire is small.
That might be true, but it’s also mostly irrelevant. I’d argue — along with Samsung, it seems — that any significant risk of a phone spontaneously catching fire is too much. Anyone who continues to use a Galaxy Note 7, in spite of all the warnings and recall programs put in place, is putting personal convenience above their own safety and those around them. Verizon is enabling that behaviour — cynically speaking, to avoid a bunch of irate customers over Christmas.