Samsung recently announced plans to issue a software update that will effectively disable Galaxy Note 7 smartphones by preventing their batteries from charging. Once the update is downloaded, the battery will run down and then it will never power up again (although you may be able to continue using the phone while it’s plugged in).
It turns out three of the largest US wireless carriers will roll out that update in the next month or so. The fourth will not.
The goal is to get any holdouts who have not yet returned their phones to do so… or at least to make sure the phones don’t spontaneously catch fire.
T-Mobile customers will get the update first, with the software rolling out on December 27th.
Verizon, meanwhile, has decided not to issue the update at all, saying it could “make it impossible to contact family, first responders, or medical professionals in an emergency situation” during the holiday travel season… although other carriers seem to be sidestepping that issue to some extent by waiting until after the holidays.
Update: Verizon note says it’ll roll out the phone killing update on January 5th.
But some folks have expressed concern that this drastic measure shows just how much control phone makers and wireless carriers have over the phone you thought you owned.
This time, the move may seem justified. But does this open the door for companies to remotely disable your phone for other purposes in the future?