Australian Samsung users may be at risk of losing precious photos, contacts and other local data after a recent software update issue has reportedly "bricked" swathes of Samsung devices.

The phone manufacturing company’s latest update (Samsung One UI 5.0 OS) upgrades eligible Samsung phones to Android 13, and is reportedly causing user devices to crash upon installation.

While Samsung is aware of the issue, the company insists the problem affects only South Australian users despite widespread complaints, and says there is no fix yet as it "continues to investigate this matter".

Samsung customers who experience the issue either describe a non-responsive blank screen when trying to turn on their phone, or being stuck in an endless bootup loop that doesn't get past the Samsung logo.

"Hard reboots didn't help, did recovery mode, wipe cache, etc nothing helped," said one impacted customer on Reddit.

"Phone got an incredibly hot whilst on the Samsung logo. Also unable to turn off the phone unless I put it into download mode and select shut-down."

To make matters worse, Samsung reportedly prompts users to download the update via a phone notification – leaving many users with an inoperable device for simply following standard update procedures.

Customers who have reached out to the gadget manufacturer’s support avenues for a fix were reportedly told their only option was a full factory reset.

This fix, which some users have allegedly paid for, results in the deletion of any photos, contacts, apps and data which hadn't been backed up.

Now, Samsung says it is offering refunds to customers who paid for a fix.

Samsung offers refunds for misplaced repair charges

On 8 January, Samsung Australia told 7News that customers "should not have been charged" for any repairs related to the glitch, and detailed where customers may be eligible for reimbursement.

"Customers who take their device to a Samsung authorised service centre and are confirmed to be affected by this issue will not be charged for any repairs relating to this issue, regardless of the Samsung Express warranty period,” a spokesperson said.

“If they have been previously been charged by a Samsung authorised service centre for repairs relating to this particular issue, they will be refunded for that work.”

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) also confirmed it was aware of the issue and its associated repair costs, and encouraged customers to reach out directly if they require further assistance after contacting Samsung.

“Under the Australian Consumer Law, consumers are entitled to a repair, replacement or refund if they have purchased a faulty product from a business,” said ACCC.

"In this instance, we recommend that affected consumers first contact Samsung to request that their faulty phones be rectified at no cost, or to seek a refund for any costs already incurred.

"If consumers require further assistance they can contact Consumer and Business Services or the ACCC.”

Which devices are most at risk?

Samsung claims the issue is limited to South Australia, yet reports of the issue have also surfaced from New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia.

Some of Samsung's tech-minded customers have taken to troubleshooting the problem at a grassroots level via Reddit and forums such as Whirlpool, where users mostly report that the issue impacts Samsung's Galaxy A series.

One Reddit user shared an alleged interaction with the Samsung Support live Chat, wherein a support operant reportedly said "most of the affected models are Galaxy A series".

"For now, we haven't heard anything official from our technicians yet. However we did receive some reported issues with the latest software update," read the reported chat exchange.

The consensus from these online efforts is to backup all phone data if possible, and to consider delaying the update to Android 13 until Samsung issues a notification of the issue being resolved.