After Samsung recalled the Galaxy Note 7 for the second time, we all assumed it was gone for good. As the old saying goes: recalled once, shame on you, recalled twice, maybe just stop and consider if you should be selling the product in the first place.
So after the second recall, Samsung confirmed that it was pulling Note 7 devices off shelves, stopping production, and writing off the entire debacle. That created a new problem, however: what to do with the millions of expensive, non-recyclable phones littering up a Samsung warehouse somewhere.
After significant pressure from Greenpeace and other ecological organizations, Samsung has outlined exactly what it’s planning on doing with all the leftover Galaxy Note 7 handsets. Some will be scrapped, with any useful parts harvested, and metals extracted in an eco-friendly way before the remains are trashed. But for an unspecified other number of handsets, Samsung is planning on refurbishing them and selling them back to consumers, or using them as rental phones. In other words, the Galaxy Note 7 isn’t dead yet.
Samsung isn’t giving details yet, but a statement issued today does seems to confirm that this is a very real thing, and not some last-minute plan:
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. The markets and release dates will be determined accordingly.
For remaining Galaxy Note 7 devices, components such as semiconductors and camera modules shall be detached by companies specializing in such services and used for test sample production purposes.
Finally, for left over component recycling, Samsung shall first extract precious metals, such as copper, nickel, gold and silver by utilizing eco-friendly companies specializing in such processes.
The fact that Samsung hasn’t started working on regulatory approval yet means we’re probably not going to see some major international launch of refurbished Galaxy Note 7s. Between the upcoming Galaxy S8 launch this spring, and a new Galaxy Note 8 this fall, Samsung wouldn’t want a big product launch of last year’s phone to serve as a distraction. Much more likely is that the refurbished phones are used as loaner devices during product repairs, or sold in less lucrative markets at a discount.