Samsung’s troubles as it tries to recall millions of Galaxy Note 7 smartphones are continuing to stack up, and its advice for dealing with the phones just got a little more complicated.
The batteries in the smartphones have been known to explode and catch fire while charging. Now, Samsung is telling customers in South Korea to download a software patch to their phones, the Associated Press reports. The patch will keep the phone’s battery from charging to more than 60 percent capacity.
It’s not clear at the moment whether this patch will also be rolled out to US customers.
Samsung told The Washington Post in a statement Tuesday that any steps it takes in the United States must be approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. “Samsung is continuing to work with the CPSC and our carrier partners to develop and evaluate solutions that are best for US Note 7 owners,” a Samsung spokeswoman said in the statement. “No action will be taken without the approval of the CPSC. Customer safety remains our top priority.”
Samsung announced last week that it was working with the federal agency to formally issue a recall for the large-screen smartphone. Samsung previously started a voluntary replacement program in cooperation with major US carriers. That opened it up to criticism from consumer advocates, including writers at Consumer Reports, who said that a problem as serious as the one affecting the Note 7 should be handled formally by the government.
The release of a software patch seems to contradict the company’s initial advice, which was to stop using the phones and to turn them off. Samsung hasn’t offered details on how capping a Note 7’s battery charge at 60 percent may reduce the risk of fire or explosion – or explained its confusing instructions. But the company may be releasing this patch to reach those who continue to use their phones despite being told to stop.
Keeping your phone off is still the guiding direction, at least in the United States. The CPSC has said, in no uncertain terms, that the best course of action with Galaxy Note 7 units is “to power them down and stop charging or using the device.”
Without further information from Samsung about whether the phones are safer if charged only to 60 percent, consumers may still wish to be safe rather than sorry – and keep the phones off altogether.