Fingers crossed it’s third time lucky for Samsung. The phone maker has started quietly producing a refurbished version of its ill-fated Note 7 handset, and pictures of it working have now leaked into the wild.
The images from TechnoBuffalo show something that looks to be the “Galaxy Note 7R,” with the R presumably standing for Refurbished. In pictures of the settings page, you can blurrily see that it’s running Android 7.0, and it has a 3,200mAh battery.
The second part is particularly important. Analysis has suggested that the reason the batteries exploded in the first place was that they were a little too much for the casing. In the pursuit of cramming every-bigger batteries into devices, Samsung pushed the tolerances and safety limits a little too far, which resulted in battery failure and “thermal runaway.” It could also have made them more susceptible to physical damage.
The fix is just as simple as you’d expect: fit a slightly smaller battery, with bigger safety margins and more room around the cell. THat should prevent easy physical damage to the battery, and the cells inside the new, lower-capacity battery should individually be safer.
Although something that looked a lot like the Galaxy Note 7R did pass through the FCC recently, it still seems unlikely that the device will go on sale here. Rumors are suggesting instead that Samsung will stick to selling it in the home market of South Korea, where demand for Samsung products is higher, and big-screen phablets make up a higher percentage of sales. For that market, the Note 7R will be a stopgap until the Galaxy Note 8 is launched, hopefully this fall.