Samsung plans to issue a software update for its recalled Galaxy Note 7 smartphones that will prevent them from overheating by limiting battery recharges to 60 percent.
Samsung said it’s planning to roll out a fix next week for Note 7 phones in its home market of South Korea that will prevent the batteries from charging above 60% of their capacity.
“This plan is for the safety of the customers,” the company said in a front-page ad in the newspaper Seoul Shinmun. It wasn’t clear if or when the software update might be extended to other affected countries like the U.S.
Samsung, the world’s biggest smartphone maker, is recalling 2.5 million Note 7 phones globally after dozens of users complained of the devices bursting into flames while charging.
“It is a measure to put consumer safety first but we apologize for causing inconvenience,” the advertisement by Samsung Electronics said. The update for South Korean users will start Sept. 20, it said.
South Korean media earlier reported the software update plan, citing Samsung.
Samsung plans to begin issuing new Note 7s with batteries it says will not be prone to overheating starting Sept. 19 in South Korea. It recalled 2.5 million of the devices just two weeks after their launch after dozens of cases in which batteries exploded or caught fire. Samsung says the problem stems from a manufacturing glitch in the batteries.
Samsung is the world’s largest smartphone maker, and analysts said the recall may leave a larger impact on its brand than earlier estimated. Aviation regulators and airlines have deemed the Note 7 a flight hazard and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is considering an official product recall.
The company has urged consumers to immediately turn off the phones and get them replaced with the new Note 7.
But implementing such a large-scale recall is a challenge. Consumers have to visit Samsung service centers or retailers twice — once to get a replacement phone — not a Galaxy Note 7 — and have a safety check of their existing Note 7, and a second time to get a new Note 7. South Koreans are traveling for one of the two biggest national holidays of the year starting Wednesday, which complicates the recall plan.
“We ate the pizza among a few of us,” Lee said by phone. He and his co-workers have been handling complaints from Note 7 consumers. “We have to do all the recalls here, do all the work and listen to all the bad things. But it feels like (Samsung) is trying to make up for it with that,” he said, referring to the pizza.
The giant electronics firm is scrambling to get replacement Note 7 devices into the hands of consumers around the world. In the meantime, it’s offering customers other devices from its range of smartphones.
In South Korea, Samsung says it plans to start providing new “battery-problem-free” Note 7 phones to current owners on Monday. The software update is due to be introduced early the following day, according to the newspaper ad.
The ad didn’t say whether the update would be automatic or require users’ agreement. Samsung didn’t respond to a request for more information on the software patch.
In the U.S., the company is working with the Consumer Product Safety Commission to figure out how a formal recall of the phones will work.
Samsung did not answer emails and calls seeking comment on Tuesday.
Analysts said the software update appears to be a last-ditch effort to contain the crisis.
“It means that the phone has not been optimized before the release,” Kim said.
Canada issued a recall notice on Monday.
The company did not say how many more battery fires in the Note 7 have been reported since Sept. 1, when 35 cases were confirmed. In announcing its recall, the Canadian government said one case was confirmed in Canada while Samsung received more than 70 reported cases in the United States alone.