Samsung quietly buried an ambitious plan to reuse its old smartphones a few years ago. The ecological ambitions of the “Galaxy Upcycling” plan would have come up against the economic imperatives of the company.
Ecology has become a major selling point in the mobile industry. Many manufacturers explain that they are making enormous efforts to recycle their old mobiles or to build smartphones in a more responsible way. Four years ago, Samsung had another idea, that of giving a second life to the old phone lying in your drawer.
As iFixit says, in 2017 the Korean giant tried to put in place an ambitious plan to reuse the old Galaxy smartphones put aside. Named ” Galaxy Upcycling », The program had the idea of transforming your old Samsung mobiles into gadgets for home automation, microcomputers or portable game consoles. How? ‘Or’ What ? By simply releasing the code from their mobiles.
Specifically, the idea was to unlock the bootloader (or “boot loader” in good French) for mobiles, that part of the system that allows you to launch the operating system on a computer or a smartphone. This opening would have made it easier to install OS and alternative software on his smartphone to give it a second life. At the same time, Samsung wanted to call on its community to create applications that take advantage of the many sensors that a smartphone has on board.
« Turn your phone into a home automation gadget », the Samsung advertising of the time promised which showed how you could easily use an old Galaxy to create a connected aquarium that allows you to feed your fish from a distance, for example.
The possibilities were enormous. By allowing the installation of alternative systems on its old smartphones, Samsung opened the door to the free culture which is often teeming with ideas. The Raspberry Pi is a perfect illustration of this, despite its limited power, the microcomputer can be used for hundreds of projects, ranging from simple web servers to connected mirror through the media center. Now imagine that we can do the same on a more powerful mobile with more sensors. Releasing the code from old mobiles could have allowed an explosion of inventiveness.
No profitability plan
Unfortunately, according to iFixit, which was involved in the operation (working hand in hand with Samsung to offer software solutions, supply components, etc.), the project was quietly abandoned, because “ management was not excited about a project that did not have a clear link to a product or revenue plan. “IFixit does not hide its disappointment, 5 years later:” We had no more news. The software was never released. The Samsung team ended up not responding. our emails.»
Today all that remains of the idea is a program that turns your mobile into a baby monitor or a light detector. And not just any smartphone, only those released since 2018. Ambitions therefore have been largely revised downwards.
However, the idea of reusing your mobile rather than recycling it is good. The most environmentally friendly electronics are the ones you already have in your drawers. By extending the lifespan of these devices, we limit the production of new gadgets that account for 70% of the digital carbon footprint according to the Senate.