in a new blog post iFixit Severely criticizes Samsung’s recently announced Galaxy Upcycling program. ArsTechnica), an initiative that repair experts helped launch in 2017. It shows how this initiative has gone from its ambitious origins to its “almost unrecognizable” final form, a complete oversight. iFixit Proceeding.
Here’s how. iFixit Describe the original plan.
The original Upcycling announcement had tremendous potential. Its purpose was twofold. This means unlocking the phone’s bootloader that would have inadvertently supported other reuse projects like LineageOS, and creating an open source marketplace of applications for manufacturers. You can run any operating system you want. By adding value to older Samsung devices (not a small feat), they could have a real impact on the huge and ever-growing e-waste problem. It was far more interesting than the usual high-level promises of device manufacturers on carbon offsets and energy figures.
This original vision can be seen in the 2017 Samsung trailer (included below). Samsung has described a way to turn old smartphones into sensors for fish tanks, while reusing old smartphones while eliminating the need for people to buy single-use, dedicated devices. Other potential ideas included turning old phones into smart home controllers, weather stations, and nanny cameras.
sounds like a cool initiative iFixit Initially heavily involved. It lent the brand to the launch and CEO Kyle Wiens helped put the project on stage at the Samsung Developer Conference. There were also plans to expand the support page and spare parts program for Samsung phones, but the project was launched…
Instead, I heard crickets. No actual software has been published. The Samsung team eventually stopped responding to our emails. Friends inside the company said management isn’t excited about projects that don’t have clear product linkages or revenue plans.
So, what are the problems with the program in 2021 form? Two: It dates back only three years to the Galaxy S9 and offers only basic smart home features. That said, it’s less than what’s possible on a cheap $40 Raspberry Pi.
So instead of actually having the old Galaxy become an automatic pet feeder, a full-fledged Linux computer, a retro game console, a tree owl Alexa alternative, or anything else that users or the hacker community could dream of, the new program can still sell for $160 and a $30 sensor. A phone that can be replaced with the same.
Most probably shrugged and moved on when they saw Samsung’s upcycling announcement in January. But it’s disappointing to realize that the project could be much more. iFixit’s The post is worth reading in its entirety.