Don’t be alarmed if you happen to see someone using a Galaxy Note7 over the summer. Ahead of this week’s Galaxy S8 unveiling, Samsung has announced a three-point program for recycling of its failed phablets, and some of them will eventually make their way back into consumers’ hands.
The press release doesn’t specify how many of the phones will be returned to the wild, but Samsung confirms it will be using some returned devices as “refurbished phones or rental phones.” Samsung offers a leasing program that lets you upgrade to a new device after a year of payments, but Samsung doesn’t say whether it would be selling refurbished Note7s to these customers.
It specifies that “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.” It’s unclear how this plan would affect the Note7’s U.S. flight ban, which is still in effect despite airlines no longer being required to announce it to flyers.
In addition to the refurbished phones, Samsung will also be removing chips, camera models, and other components from recalled Note7s for re-use (insert battery joke here), as well as extracting “precious metals, such as copper, nickel, gold, and silver by utilizing eco-friendly companies specializing in such processes.”
Since devices began catching fire and exploding following the Note7 launch last year, Samsung has been working with carriers to get as many phones returned as possible. After a round of recalls, major carriers sent out a software update earlier this year that disabled charging of the battery to effectively brick any remaining devices. And last week, the Korea Times reported that Samsung would be sending out its own update to disable charging. At last count, Samsung said more than 96 percent of all devices had been returned.
The impact on your well-being: It’s an easy punch line, but the bottom line here is that any Note7s that will be returned to the wild will be fine. Samsung has already detailed its 8-point safety check for testing batteries, and you can rest assured that Samsung will run any refurbished Note7s through every single one of them, probably twice. And while it’s somewhat doubtful that any of the devices will be sold in the U.S. (most likely they will be sold at a steep discount in emerging markets), they will be just as safe as any other Galaxy phone you can buy.