Samsung "upcycling" programme - disappointing

Samsung announced it’s launching a programme do give a second lease of life to its old smartphones, so that they can be used as baby monitors and other smart home devices. So far, so good. If you go on their website though, and look carefully at the footnotes, you’ll learn that:

the Upcycling at Home feature is "available on all S, Note, and Z series released from 2018 (S9, Note9 or later) running Android 9 and above.

We are talking about phones released 3 years ago - which should be supported so that they can continue to be used as…smartphones, not downcycled as baby monitors.

As one of the commenters on the ArsTechnica piece covering this “launch” noted, it’s been possible for years to use much older devices with apps turning them into security cameras, baby monitors, etc - so, what’s the big deal?


The article makes a good point too:

It would also be nice if Samsung just threw open the doors to its end-of-life hardware and unlocked the bootloaders, allowing users to wipe out the old abandoned OSes and apps on these devices and install some newer, more appropriate software.

With Samsung’s approach, now my upcycled baby monitor is tethered to Samsung’s ‘SmartThings’ app…


iFixit wrote about how Samsung’s programme 4 years ago was conceived with a much different approach, which the company then proceeded to ruin - very interesting reading:

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I managed to cram this story into the PC Pro podcast last week.

The short video that I mention, including the ‘Award winning’ Samsung furniture, is here.


This is nothing new. Many years ago the box Freitag bags came in could be transformed in a cardboard TV and cardboard remote control. This was the TV I had for many years until I eventually recently recycled it. Ironically, the one image I can find of it is on a Korean website though I don’t believe it has any relation to Samsung:

Just noting, while we are hating on Samsung greenwashing, that they had the gall to reference our data on this page… We’re footnote number 1.

Completely agree - I think I was more shocked that it won an innovation award. Give a nursery school a Samsung box and they’ll make a fire-engine or a dragon out of it.

I’d never heard of the Freitag cardboard TV before - thanks for sharing that. I love the concept but I know they’d need to be a bucket of sand next to mine if I owned one.

I might have been unclear. There’s no electronics in it. It’s just using the packaging of the bag to make a cardboard shape TV, with details printed on it. I had put a photograph I had taken inside as the permanent display!

Ah! That makes much more sense.