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Samsung Galaxy Note 7 may make a comeback, but not in the US

Samsung opens the door to selling the Note 7 -- the device it recalled twice -- as a refurbished model overseas.

PARIS, FRANCE - OCTOBER 12: A Samsung logo is displayed on the facade of a Samsung Partnershop retail store on October 12, 2016 in Paris, France. Less than two months after its launch, Samsung Electronics has announced that it is discontinuing its flagship Galaxy Note 7 smartphone after repeated reports of fires starting in the phones. (Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)
Chesnot, Getty Images

Don't call it a comeback. Call it a minor miracle.

Samsung on Monday said it's considering selling recalled Galaxy Note 7 devices as refurbished or rental phones "where applicable." But there's at least one place you won't see them again.

"Samsung will not be offering refurbished Galaxy Note 7 devices for rent or sale in the US," a Samsung spokesperson told CNET.

The spokesperson added that product details including the name, technical specifications and price range will be announced when the device is available.

Samsung recalled the phone -- twice -- last year after it was found to have the uncomfortably high tendency to overheat and catch fire, incurring an estimated cost of $3 billion for the company. After the second recall, Samsung scrapped the phone, and that was supposed to be end of that.

Until Monday.

The comment opens the door to the unlikeliest of comebacks. Samsung had seemingly put the issue to bed in January by disclosing the cause of the fires -- two different incidents with its two suppliers -- and appeared ready to move on. The company, after all, is set to unveil its Galaxy S8 phone on Wednesday. The possibility of its return is music to the ears of hardcore Note 7 fans, many of whom stubbornly clung to their phones until the end.

The announcement was made as part of a three-point plan that also includes salvaging components for re-use and extracting metals using environmentally friendly methods.

Samsung's statement addressed questions posed by environmentalists about how the company would dispose of the 4.3 million recalled units. Greenpeace, for instance, sent protestors to Samsung's press conference at the Mobile World Congress trade show last month to demand answers.

"While we welcome this news, Samsung must share as soon as possible more detailed timelines on when it will implement its promises, as well as how it intends to change its production system to make sure this never happens again," Jude Lee, global senior campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia, said in a statement on Monday.

If you're looking for a Note 7, the details on when and where they'll show up are still fuzzy. Samsung said it would talk with regulatory authorities and carriers, as well as look at the local demand.

Samsung said it also plans to join the European Union's research and development and test efforts to develop new eco-friendly processing methods.

First published at 8:31 a.m. PT.
Update, 12:04 p.m. PT: Added comments from Samsung clarifying the refurbished model won't be available in the United States.

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