While it had previoulsly denied claims that it was set to sell refurbished Galaxy Note 7 smartphones in no uncertain terms, Samsung has announced that it could refurbish and sell on some of the millions of duff phones that were recalled and shelved last year.
In a statement, the company said that it would “recycle and process [the devices] in an environmentally friendly manner”, and that any salvageable components and metals would be detached and extracted by recycling companies. The big bit of interest from the statement however came when the company said: “Regarding the Galaxy Note 7 devices as refurbished phones or rental phones, applicability is dependent upon consultations with regulatory authorities and carriers as well as due consideration of local demand. The markets and release dates will be determined accordingly.”
In other words, the company wants to sell off refurbished Note 7s, but is awaiting approval to do so.
This news complements reports from last year that Samsung was planning on introducing a refurbished phone selling scheme. At the time, a spokesperson declined to comment on the speculation.
The move has been well received from environmentalists, with Greenpeace East Asia’s Jude Lee calling it a "major win for everyone that took action, and a step towards shifting the way we produce and dispose of electronics".
However, there is the possibility that this decision could harm the company’s public reputation on the eve of the launch of Samsung’s latest flagship phone: the Galaxy S8. Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research referred to this as potentially being "a huge misstep”.
“While the desire to minimise the environmental impact is admirable, and Samsung would no doubt benefit financially from refurbishing the phones, it would have been better off simply doing what it originally said it would and abandoning the line entirely and merely recouping parts,” Dawson said in a blogpost.
Samsung is set to launch the Galaxy S8 tomorrow at Samsung Galaxy Unpacked 2017 in New York.