T-Mobile rolls out update that bricks beleaguered Samsung’s exploding Galaxy phones; AT&T and Sprint are up next

“T-Mobile is the first major carrier to start ‘killing’ off the remaining Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones,” Stacy Liberatore and Abigail Beall report for The Daily Mail. “The Washington firm has begun rolling out a software update to the handsets that will prevent batteries from charging.”

“The idea behind the update is to encourage those users who have not already returned their recalled handsets to do so,” Liberatore and Beall report. “T-Mobile is just the first carrier to roll out the push, as it is said that AT&T and Sprint will jump on the bandwagon on January 5, reports CNET.”

“But, Verizon customers will still be able to charge their phones plagued with battery problems,” Liberatore and Beall report. “Samsung axed its Galaxy Note 7 smartphone in October this year, stopping production of the faulty device a day after it halted global sales of the product and offering everyone their money back. The South Korean tech giant said it made the final decision to stop production for the sake of consumer safety, after a huge number of the phones overheated and spontaneously burst into flames.

An exploded, post-fire Samsung Galaxy Note 7
An exploded, post-fire Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Anyone who buys Samsung-branded products is a fool.

Samsung has no clue why their phones explode, yet they shipped replacements anyway, assuring their customers they were safe.

To avoid explosions and fires, Samsung wants to brick every Galaxy Note 7 in North America; Verizon refuses to release the software – December 9, 2016
Samsung’s dangerous Galaxy Note 7 broke basic engineering rules, says damning new report – December 5, 2016
Beleaguered Samsung claims Galaxy S7 phones are safe; do you believe them? – November 21, 2016
New report of different Samsung phone model exploding in France – November 7, 2016
Beleaguered Samsung recalls 2.8 million washing machines due to risk of explosion – November 4, 2016
IDC survey: 50% of beleaguered Samsung’s exploding phone users upgrading to Apple iPhone – October 28, 2016
Now beleaguered Samsung’s Galaxy S7 Edge is reportedly catching fire – October 25, 2016
Samsung refusing to pay for property damage caused by its exploding phones – October 22, 2016
No, Apple’s iPhone 7’s are not having the same issue as Samsung’s exploding, fire-causing phones – October 21, 2016
Beleaguered Samsung’s exploding phone troubles come at an already crucial moment – October 18, 2016
Horror stories from the flight ban of Samsung’s exploding phones – October 17, 2016
Analyst estimates 5-7 million ex-Samsung phone users to switch to Apple iPhone – October 17, 2016
U.S. air passengers who try to take Samsung’s exploding phones onto planes face fines, confiscation, criminal prosecution – October 15, 201
Samsung has no clue why their phones explode, yet they shipped replacements anyway, assuring their customers they were safe – October 14, 2016
United States bans all Samsung Note 7 phones on airline flights – October 14, 2016
Beleaguered Samsung’s cellphone dilemma – October 13, 2016
Exploding Galaxy phones: What did Samsung know and when did they know it? – October 12, 2016
Apple or Android phone makers: Who wins more on Samsung’s Galaxy collapse? – October 12, 2016
People are dumping Samsung’s unsafe, exploding phones and upgrading to Apple’s iPhone – October 12, 2016
Social media users mock beleaguered Samsung’s explosive phones – October 11, 2016
Replacement Galaxy Note 7, deemed ‘safe’ by Samsung, catches fire in Scottish hotel room – October 11, 2016
Samsung axes explosive Galaxy Note 7, shares plummet – October 11, 2016
Drexel Hamilton projects 8 million iPhone unit gain for Apple this year alone due to Samsung’s exploding phones debacle – October 11, 2016
Samsung takes multi-billion-dollar hit to end exploding phones fiasco – October 11, 2016
Beleaguered Samsung permanently ceases Galaxy Note 7 production – October 11, 2016

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz” and “David Steward” for the heads up.]


  1. I can’t believe that Verizon isn’t bricking the phones. What is their legal dept brain dead?? What happened to controlling risk AND protecting your customers. i am a Verizon stockholder and will be send them an e-mail complaining. The stock’s prognosis is not great for 2017. Perhaps it is time for me to sell.

  2. I’m still curious what the basis in law is for destroying other’s property. It must be there, because actually it’s illegal to destroy another person’s computer.

    What next, smart-fridges destroying bacon to reduce cholesterol intake?

    Mind you, I’m not saying they’re safe, or that something shouldn’t be done, I just want to know the legal basis.

    1. I guess that you also oppose taking terrorist’s bomb making materials from them because it is illegal to destroy another person’s things? Do you also oppose taking illegal weapons from people who haven’t yet shot school children?

        1. Don’t forget a few things:

          1) Exploding batteries are injuring people
          2) Samsung, in cooperation with the CPSC, recalled them
          3) People ignored the recall
          4) So the FAA banned them on flights, where stubborn “owners” could endanger the lives of hundreds of innocents
          5) The software patch doesn’t destroy them, it prevents them from charging the battery

          Which law makes them illegal?
          First result looks pretty good:

          At the CPSC website you can search for “Samsung Note 7” and read the details, and then read the fine print at the bottom: “Federal law bars any person from selling products subject to a publicly-announced voluntary recall by a manufacturer or a mandatory recall ordered by the Commission.”

        2. Very useful. Thank you.
          1-4, no argument. Also, no argument about there being a need to reign them in. Never was.

          Preventing charging, by any means is damaging them.
          You have shown how one cannot ‘sell’ the Note 7, and the FAA (the law) has forbidden them on flights. It’s not yet clear to me how the telcos have the right to tamper with someone else’s property. That should be the law’s job, and the proper laws may indeed exist. I just don’t know them.

        3. The basic tenet of this is that the phones themselves aren’t actually “owned” by the majority of consumers, they are leased to own, and in most cases the phone is never paid off on carrier fincaning plans. Therefore the “owner” is technically the carrier and it doesn’t violate the law to brick them. That’s the legal precedent. The safety concerns are the bigger problem, and certainly those who bought them outright and unlocked have no obligation to return the hardware, but they still lease the software on the device and therefore don’t own anything there, so the company can alter it at their pleasure.

          The bigger issue at hand is that people are deliberately endangering public safety by continuing to use these things, and therefore could be considered a terrorist for carrying a bomb, but that’s a weaker argument than the leasing one.

        4. On that basis you’re correct. Do the carriers make a distinction for those that buy their phones outright (as I do)?

          Yes there is a bigger issue, but I do NOT want ANY company to touch my stuff. Only duly elected, sovereign governments and their agencies. Again IF the government, perhaps through the FCC is doing this, under due process, I have no issue, especially since replacements or refunds are offered.

        5. Actually, most phones are actually paid for by the consumers in their entirety.

          However, your argument may be partially correct in that, while the user may own the hardware, (s)he only is licensed to use the software on it, but the ownership is in almost all cases in the hands of the manufacturer (or software developer). In this case, Samsung may have sold the phone to Verizon, who then sold it to Joe Sixpack, but the OS on that phone is owned by various entities; some of it belongs to Google, some of it to Samsung, other parts of the OS to other developers, but no part of the OS software is actually owned by the person who purchased the phone.

          In terms of ownership of the phone, the carrier probably has weaker claim than the actual user, however, with Android, vast majority of carriers do own at least some of the software on the phone.

          This may not be that relevant here, though, since the part of the code they are changing is, in all likelihood, NOT the part they actually own. The battery charging code most likely belongs either to Google, or to Samsung. It was Samsung who provided the update disabling the charging to carriers and users who had implemented it so far.

          Bottom line here is that the most relevant governing legal authority still is the ownership of the OS code on that phone and who has the right to make changes to it and under which circumstances. As the carrier owns the legal responsibility for the code, it has the authority to make changes to it at its sole discretion. In most cases, it will be to improve functionality or quality of service. In this case, it will be for safety, and to reduce their liability.

        6. The terrorism argument might be weak on precedent, but not on emotion. The definition of terrorism is the following:

          “The unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property in order to coerce or intimidate a government or the civilian population in furtherance of political or social objectives.”

          A person knowingly carrying a bomb phone into the public arena is imposing a social objective. They are endangering the lives of others by proving to the world that they can not be coerced by a product recall. This is a conscious decision and should be considered malice.

          At the very least, these remaining few hundred thousand Samsung Note 7 owners should be placed on the no-fly list by The Department of Homeland Security.

        7. How extreme! That makes as much sense as putting people with strongly encrypted phones on the ‘no fly’ list because terrorists prefer strongly encrypted phones.

          They have been legally forbidden. Confiscation and/or a fine is sufficient.

        8. About a month ago a report claimed the reason the Note 7’s were exploding was because of an engineering defect. The report said every single Note 7 will eventually fail and explode. This means anyone carying a Note 7 with them is carrying a bomb, and anyone knowingly carying a bomb into a public area is considered a terrorist.

        9. Once US Regulators issue a recall the burden leaves the company and goes to the owner. If the phone explodes in a public place you the owner are liable for any damages, injuries or worst case loss of life.

    2. It’s pretty simple really. Besides all the laws involving selling officially recalled products and such, the issue here falls under civil law.

      When you buy a Samsung (and I’m guessing every other phone), in the licensing agreement for the software, you’re agreeing that updates may occur. The iPhone has this clause, and yes Apple has always had the ability to remote brick the iPhone or even specific apps (carrier mandate).

      Now, as an owner of a Samsung phone, if your phone stops working, you’re covered under warranty. Samsung has to replace or refund the purchase. Samsung is doing that under the terms of the recall.

      One could sue Samsung for selling a product that no longer works while under warranty, but the civil legal recourse for that is to replace or refund, which Samsung is doing. So a lawsuit would have no legal standing.

      What if this had occurred after the warranty expired? Good question. It depends on a variety of factors, but usually mass defects occurring within a normal life cycle need to be addressed by the manufacturer or they’ll find themselves subject to a class-action suit. So in other words, had Samsung had to do this when people were out of warranty, they still would’ve had to do a replace/refund or partially refund as a likely result of a class-action settlement.

      TL;DR: I think you’re looking at the legal basis from the wrong direction. It’s what’s the recourse for the consumer if a defect prevents you from using your the device you purchased.

      1. @kevicosuave @Predrag

        You both make powerful points, but there’s still holes in the argument.

        First, there’s “Contracts” and then there’s “contracts”. An EULA is a little “c” contract because it’s in-negotiated, and the buyer does not have access (most of the time) to legal representation. So I do question the limits of EULA enforceability.

        Second, there’s the “trespassing” aspect of changing the code. Entrance without permission, and knowledge of purpose is trespassing unless there is explicit consent.

        Software IP is licensed, as you correctly point out, but each individual copy, stored “In my chip” is granted permission of use. I cannot make derivative works and duplicates and give them out, but I do own “that chip-in it’s current state”. So, I come back to this… what law permits this?

        Are Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T proxy’s for the police? Of course not, because the product is not yet illegal (unless it is) in which case I submit to you that it’s more legitimate for a Police Officer to confiscate it from you, that for your carrier to destroy it without your consent.

        Either way, you’re right about the recourse: a refund or replacement.

        1. “So, I come back to this… what law permits this?”

          It’s more like “what law doesn’t permit this?”

          Speaking from Apple’s SLA, which is pretty standard, the first section reads:
          1. General.
          (a) The software (including Boot ROM code, embedded software and third party software), documentation, interfaces, content, fonts and any data that came with your iOS Device (“Original iOS Software”), as may be updated or replaced by feature enhancements, software updates or system restore software provided by Apple (“iOS Software Updates”), whether in read only memory, on any other media or in any other form (the Original iOS Software and iOS Software Updates are collectively referred to as the “iOS Software”) are licensed, not sold, to you by Apple Inc. (“Apple”) for use only under the terms of this License.

          “the buyer does not have access (most of the time) to legal representation.”

          Sure they do. They have, if they so wish, access to the SLA and ability to have it reviewed by an attorney before they purchase. After they purchase, they have the ability to receive a refund if they don’t agree with the terms.

          “So I do question the limits of EULA enforceability.”

          Samsung isn’t enforcing anything in this case. Samsung is doing something, and the end user can seek recourse, but that legal recourse under civil law is limited to damages. Samsung sold a defective phone. Samsung replaces or refunds said phone, thus damages are compensated.

          “Second, there’s the “trespassing” aspect of changing the code. Entrance without permission, and knowledge of purpose is trespassing unless there is explicit consent.”

          I get where you’re coming from, but the problem is that many thing simply couldn’t work without things being this way, and thankfully the courts haven’t found otherwise.

        2. Perhaps the Courts haven’t found otherwise because this hasn’t happened before. If it has, there must be applicable law.

          Merely “looking up” the SLA is not a negotiated agreement. It’s unilateral. We don’t do a ‘closing’ replete with Title Companies, Attorneys, and Banks when we buy gadgets and software. Do we?

          I truly appreciate the conversation, and I don’t want to tire you, but I like pushing the argument to see where it breaks (if it breaks) and why. It’s how I achieve understanding.

        3. I do find it more than preposterous that someone could so much as touch my property without applicable law, and then the touching should be by law enforcement or their proxy (FDA, FCC, USDA, etc). If the FCC ordered the kill signal, under the law, then fine. I did not elect Samsung, or AT&T or anyone to do this.

      1. A core premise of my idealism is that no one has the right to inflict the consequences of their lack of responsibility upon others.

        IOW: Keep the inevitable damage caused by your Samsung Galaxy Note 7 to yourself. Strap it to your body and wear a fire-resistant jumpsuit over the rest of your body.

        Oh and THIS just happened:

        Virgin America mid-flight panic after moron sets phone Wi-Fi hotspot to ‘Samsung Galaxy Note 7’
        What you really don’t want to see at 20,000 feet

        Havoc at 20,000 feet because some dummy “named their phone’s Wi-Fi hotspot ‘Samsung Galaxy Note 7‘.” (0_o) *Not amusing*

        IRRESPONSIBILITY is the point of regulation. Our modern world is full of it.

  3. This precedent is a double edged sword. Consider this scenario:
    1. Feds decide that secure apple phones are a threat to national security.
    2. Apple is forced to create a less secure version of IOS that is hackable by “authorized agencies”.
    3a. If Apple complies:Updated (downgraded) IOS is pushed to your phone regardless of whether you want it or not
    3b. If Apple refuses: IPhones have an update force installed and “bricked” to remove them from use.
    Not a pleasant scenario IMHO

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