Verizon refuses to issue Samsung's software upgrade to kill Note 7 devices

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 (Samsung)
Samsung's Galaxy Note 7. Image: Samsung

Samsung said it will issue a software update to render its Galaxy Note 7 useless in an effort to encourage users to return potentially defective devices. But Verizon said it won’t cooperate.

The South Korean vendor was forced to issue dual recalls for the high-end gadget after both the initial units and a wave of replacement devices were found to be at risk of overheating and catching fire. About 93% of all recalled devices have been returned, but Samsung said a software update will be released starting Dec. 19 that will prevent unreturned devices from charging, essentially killing them.

“Together with our carrier partners, we will be notifying consumers through the multiple touchpoints to encourage any remaining Galaxy Note 7 owners to participate in the program and to take advantage of the financial incentives available,” Samsung said in a statement.

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The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission officially announced a recall of the Note 7 in September after Samsung received 92 reports of batteries overheating in the U.S., including 26 reports of burns and 55 reports of property damage including fires. Samsung produced a second wave of devices but issued a second recall after a replacement phone caught fire aboard a Southwest Airlines flight.

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The largest mobile network operator in the U.S. won’t participate in Samsung’s software update, though, out of fear of leaving its customers who own the phone without a way to communicate.

“Verizon will not be taking part in this update because of the added risk this could pose to Galaxy Note 7 users that do not have another device to switch to,” spokesman Jeffrey Nelson said in prepared remarks. “We will not push a software upgrade that will eliminate the ability for the Note 7 to work as a mobile device in the heart of the holiday season. We do not want to make it impossible to contact family, first responders or medical professionals in an emergency situation.”