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Samsung upcycling initiative will breathe new life into older mobile devices

By Shawn Knight ยท 7 replies
Oct 30, 2017
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  1. Smartphones are no different than most tech gadgets in that they don’t hold their value particularly well. Along with a few other factors, this realization has helped fuel countless smartphone lease / trade-in / buyback programs although not everyone is willing to take companies up on their offers.

    It’s not uncommon to find consumers that utilize a phone for a couple of years and then buy something new. Rinse and repeat a few times and suddenly, you end up with multiple handsets that all may still be in great cosmetic and physical shape. What do you do then?

    Many would concede that having a second phone handy as a backup isn’t a terrible idea. Some pass along used devices to friends and family members, sell them to cover the cost of the new device or find joy in donating them to people in need. Others, however, have a harder time parting ways with older gadgets.

    If you fall into the latter category, Samsung’s new initiative may be worth looking into.

    In a nutshell, Samsung’s new upcycling initiative involves stripping older Galaxy devices of their Android operating system and replacing it with a new OS that can be used for all sorts of tasks. At its recent developer conference in San Francisco, for example, the company showcased a Bitcoin mining cluster consisting of 40 Galaxy S5 handsets as well as an older Galaxy tablet that is now an Ubuntu-powered laptop and a Galaxy S3 that monitors a fish tank.

    Robin Schultz, a spokesperson for Samsung, told Motherboard via e-mail that the innovative platform provides an environmentally responsible way for old Galaxy mobile devices to breathe new life, providing new possibilities and potential extended value for devices that might otherwise be forgotten in desk drawers or discarded.

    Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit, notes that you couldn’t really do this as a third-party. What Samsung has done, he said, is built a layer between the hardware and being able to install anything you want on it.

    Indeed, manufacturer-level support for the repurposing of devices in this manner is unprecedented. Most companies are focused on getting consumers to replace their mobile device with a new model as often as possible and don’t give much thought to an encore career for the outgoing smartphone or tablet. Recycling programs exist, of course, but why spend the time and money to strip a device down for materials when the hardware is still perfectly capable of performing other tasks when paired with different software?

    Samsung has created a placeholder for the initiative on GitHub and is planning to publish a magazine-style portfolio of projects that users will be able to download and utilize. The exact launch date wasn’t shared but doesn’t sound too far off.

    Permalink to story.

  2. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 4,540   +3,133

    Last edited: Oct 30, 2017
  3. Kotters

    Kotters TS Maniac Posts: 330   +223

    ...CPU mining was their demonstration? Seriously?
  4. noel24

    noel24 TS Evangelist Posts: 526   +469

    My $350 Galaxy S4 9506 is some 3,5years "old" and it does all the things it did since I bought it. And unlike most of My friends' last year's 2,5D screened, top-notch, $700-1000 dollars Samsung's and Apple's flagships - It doesn't have a broken screen. Strange, isn't it? They walk around with broken phones because they are bonded with pricey contracts and either have no time or money to fix their screens. My next phone will also have an AMOLED screen, with proper frames around this screen, replaceable battery and no glue inside. And will cost up to $400. The question is: will I found one in few years from now?
    Skidmarksdeluxe likes this.
  5. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,786   +1,171

    Back on topic... I find it amazing that they are really utilizing old mobiles for renewed purposes, I have an "old" LG G2 that's 4 years old and works perfectly fine, I use it for doing stuff around the house, notepad, playing music, games, kind of like an iPod touch type of device. A phone without a phone. It's powerful enough that could do much more than just that and it's good that they are starting to see that.
  6. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,286

    I've heard Apple is on the cusp of releasing some new smartphone for a grand. Maybe that will interest you. ;) A grand? For a phone? Indeed! I may have to pay that 5 years from now for a fancy phone but now? I've got far better things to waste that kind of money on.
  7. Danny101

    Danny101 TS Guru Posts: 824   +324

    Trying to recoup their costs from lawsuits filed against them.
  8. JackTheBear

    JackTheBear TS Rookie Posts: 20   +13

    CPU Bitcoin mining is pointless. So is GPU Bitcoin mining, but a little less so. That said, I would hope they are using the not insignificant Adreno 330 to do the mining vs piss poor Intel HD 2000 on the i7 2600. The fact that it still takes 8 S5s to beat one Intel chip is very telling. Seems like HD 2000 isn't that bad (relatively speaking) and ARM still has a long way to go before it can challenge a real desktop processor. As for efficiency, an i3/Pentium/Celeron with HD 2000 would give similar performance with much less power draw.

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