iFixit tells the sad story of how Samsung “ruined” its upcycling program | GeekComparison

iFixit appears in Samsung's original upcycling video.
enlarge iFixit appears in Samsung’s original upcycling video.

Lost in the hustle and bustle of Google I/O last week was this blog post from Kevin Purdy of iFixit, which tells the inside story of how Samsung announced a “revolutionary” upcycling program in 2017, delayed it for years, and eventually removed it from shipping a pale imitation of the original idea. iFixit was actually involved in the initial announcement of 2017, and the repair outfit says that after approving the original idea with its brand and stamp of approval, Samsung never lived up to its promises.

Despite announcing an upcycling program in 2017, the code was not sent until April 2021, when Samsung finally launched a beta version of “Galaxy Upcycling at Home”. The program allows users to turn end-of-life Samsung phones into smart home sensors that can be linked to Samsung’s SmartThings ecosystem. In our coverage of the Galaxy Upcycling at Home launch, we called it “a very humble starting point.” It was nice to see Samsung think about the piles of e-waste it’s dumping into the world, so we tried to be nice, but turning a hundreds-dollar phone into a light sensor or sound sensor seemed like a waste.

We also hoped the program would expand dramatically, for example by allowing users to unlock the bootloaders of devices that Samsung decided to no longer support, so that the community could keep them active and relevant. The Raspberry Pi is a good benchmark for what an open device can look like, with thousands of applications and a ton of custom operating systems. A retired smartphone could easily match this functionality, plus it has a touchscreen, speakers, a battery, and usually more horsepower than a Pi.

iFixit first got a glimpse of the project in 2017 and liked it so much that it endorsed the project and lent its name to the marketing collateral. To hear iFixit tell the story, unlocking the bootloader was actually the original plan. Samsung would let users replace the Android OS with whatever they wanted, such as builds of LineageOS or another custom OS. Samsung is also said to be launching an open source marketplace where users can submit ideas and software for reusing old Galaxy devices. iFixit called the original plan “novel” and “revolutionary.”

“We were so excited,” iFixit writes, “that when Samsung asked us to help launch the product in Fall 2017, we jumped at the chance. You’ll see iFixit’s name and logo all over Samsung’s original Galaxy Upcycling. see materials.”

iFixit went to Samsung’s headquarters in South Korea to see prototypes of the project, and after testing working software, iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens actually helped announce the project on stage at Samsung’s developer conference in 2017.

Original Samsung upcycling video. None of this was actually sent.

For all the pomp and circumstance, iFixit says: “The actual software was never posted. The Samsung team eventually stopped returning our emails. Friends within the company told us that the management was not enthusiastic about a project that was not clear. product. tie-in or revenue plan.”

iFixit calls the version of the program that launched in April “almost unrecognizable” from what it originally endorsed. What used to be an ambitious plan now makes little sense financially. iFixit rightly points out that if you really want something as simple as a light sensor or sound monitor, you’re better off selling the phone right now and buying a purpose-built sensor. Samsung’s on-rails functionality is so simple that it can be replicated by a $30 sensor, and you certainly get more than that of a working device on the secondary market, mainly because of another program limitation: it stretches. only looking forward to the 3-year-old Galaxy S9.

We’ll let iFixit have the final say:

“Samsung, like any manufacturer, should release their old phones. Open up their bootloaders. Let people use their cameras, sensors, antennas and screens for all kinds of purposes, with all the software people can think of. The world needs fun, exciting and money-saving ways to reuse older phones, not a second-rate link to yet another branded internet-of-things ecosystem.”

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