Samsung to hobble Galaxy Note 7 charging in US with software

To spur more returns, past the current 85 percent level, Samsung will issue a software update that won't let the devices charge beyond 60 percent.

Shara Tibken Former managing editor
Shara Tibken was a managing editor at CNET News, overseeing a team covering tech policy, EU tech, mobile and the digital divide. She previously covered mobile as a senior reporter at CNET and also wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. Shara is a native Midwesterner who still prefers "pop" over "soda."
Shara Tibken
2 min read
Josh Miller

Most Galaxy Note 7 users in the US have returned their devices. For those who haven't, Samsung will soon start limiting the device's charging capabilities.

Samsung on Friday said 85 percent of all recalled Note 7 phones in the US have been replaced through its refund and exchange program, "with the majority of the participants opting to receive another Samsung smartphone." The company didn't immediately provide information about how many phones had been returned around the world.

For the remaining holdouts in the US, Samsung said it will release a software update in the coming days to limit the phone's ability to charge beyond 60 percent. It also will issue a reminder pop-up notification every time a consumer charges, reboots or turns on the screen of their Note 7 device.

"We remain focused on collecting the outstanding Galaxy Note 7 phones in the market," the company said in a statement on its website.

Even though people have been warned to stop using their phones, some super fans have continued to hold on to their Note 7 devices. Along with issuing the charging limitation software in other markets, Samsung has taken more drastic measures to get people to turn in their devices. Earlier Friday, the company said it had teamed up with carriers in New Zealand to cut off access to wireless networks for customers still using their Note 7 devices.

Watch this: Samsung aims to entice Note 7 owners, and iPhone 7 Plus gets an upgrade

Samsung hasn't yet gone that far in the US or other major markets.

The Note 7, which hit the market in mid-August, was expected to solidify Samsung's lead in the mobile market after a strong showing with its Galaxy S7. The company had just begun to regain its swagger after stumbling the previous year with lackluster products.

Then came the battery problems, which caused some units to overheat and catch fire. Samsung issued a global recall of the popular device in September. But then some replacement units started having the same problem. That caused Samsung to issue a second recall in mid-October and permanently stop production of the device. It's offering Note 7 owners $100 to exchange the device for another Samsung phone.

Samsung has said the Note 7 recall will cost it more than $5 billion over the next few quarters. The company on Friday also issued a recall for 2.8 million washing machines due to injury risk. The two fiascos have raised questions about Samsung's quality and assurance testing and have dealt a blow to its reputation.