Samsung may recycle recalled Note 7 hardware as a new phone
Samsung has successfully collected almost all the Galaxy Note 7 devices it sold last year, save for a few stubborn (and reckless) holdouts who don’t want to give up their explosive phones. That leaves the company with millions of high-end smartphones in storage, and the hardware is still perfectly good. The question is what to do with them. A new report from SamMobile claims the company has started a project to recycle the old Note 7 hardware into a new device.
The Galaxy Note 7 came out in the fall of 2016 to rave reviews. The device was undeniably beautiful and had a killer screen. However, reports of phones bursting into flames began to pile up fast. There are always a few batteries that fail because of manufacturing defects or damage, but this was a more widespread issue. Samsung started a recall and sent out phones with new batteries. Those phones showed a tendency to catch fire too.
The second recall spelled doom for the Note 7 — Samsung opted to remove the device from sale and move on. It has spent the intervening months pushing updates that reduced the battery capacity, added nags about returning the phone, and eventually blocked the phone’s ability to recharge completely. Most owners took the hint and sent the phone back for a refund.
Samsung’s investigation of the battery fires pointed to two distinct defects in the old and new batteries that caused the internal structure to short, leading to overheating and eventual fire. With the problem definitively narrowed down to the 3,300mAh lithium-ion cell, Samsung is free to reuse the rest of the hardware. That’s apparently what it’s doing with the “Grace R” project. “Grace” was the Note 7’s code name, and the “R” stands for refurbished.
The new device would not simply be the Note 7 with yet another battery. In fact, it’s not likely to have Note branding at all. The components would be used to build a completely new phone with different features and chassis design. Samsung would probably discard the stylus, which is at the heart of the Note brand, but the 5.7-inch curved AMOLED display, 12MP camera, and mainboard with Snapdragon 820 are all still perfectly usable.
The resulting phone could actually be quite nice, but Samsung will reportedly use a smaller battery to be extra sure nothing goes wrong. The Grace R phone might only be launched in South Korea with model number SM-N935. This is all still unofficial, but keep an eye out for a new Samsung phone with a Snapdragon 820 and 5.7-inch display. You might be looking at a Frankensteined Note 7.