At Samsung’s January press conference revealing the cause of the Note 7 battery fires, some Greenpeace protesters sneaked in and shouted the company down for how they were disposing of the unused phones. Well, maybe they got into the heads of Samsung’s leadership — somewhat surprisingly, the company now plans to start selling refurbished Note 7 units.
It’s not something that will happen immediately or worldwide. Per a Reuters report, Samsung will work with individual carriers to see if making the Note 7 available makes sense, something that will also vary from market to market. If Samsung does make them available, they’ll either be used as rental phones or sold as refurbished units, so there won’t necessarily be a big ad campaign ahead.
In fairness to Samsung, the Note 7 would probably be safe now. The company’s investigation revealed two different battery faults that caused fires in both the original Note 7 units and the replacement units, concluding that the rest of the phone was safe (an investigation that should have happened before Samsung rushed out the replacement units). Now that Samsung has a new, comprehensive battery-testing procedure in place, the Note 7 units that do become available should be explosion-free.
But, it’s still a bit of a risk for both Samsung and carriers. In all likelihood, the refurbished phones won’t have the kinds of widespread problems that the Note 7 had, but it’s still a high-risk move — should anything go wrong, it’d be another huge hit to Samsung and almost certainly the death of the Note line. Various analysts have put Samsung’s Note 7-related losses well into the billions as it is.