Samsung has finally announced exactly what went wrong with what should have been the best phone of 2016. The Galaxy Note 7 became infamous for bursting into flames, and after much speculation, we now know the official story. Samsung stated that there were two distinct issues with both the original and replacement devices. So, what caused this fiery disaster?
What Went Wrong with the Note 7?
Samsung Electronics used two different batteries from two different suppliers for each of the two batches of phones. One supplier has been named as Samsung SDI (Samsung Electronics’ cousin within the Samsung Group parent). The other supplier, Amperex Technology, has stepped forward as well. Samsung provided spec requirements to the suppliers, and it was up to the first manufacturer to build the original battery, and the second to build the replacement. Both battery designs resulted in the same outcome.
According to the South Korean electronics giant, the first version of the phone’s battery casing was simply too small. It was initially thought that the phone itself did not have enough room, but that was not the case. Batteries expand and contract during charging and discharging. The pouch that the battery was encased in was too constricting, and did not allow it to grow and shrink. So, this design flaw caused the positive and negative electrodes to make contact, specifically in the top corner of the battery.
Once the flaw became apparent (i.e., when people’s phones started catching fire), Samsung assembled teams in each of the four facilities where the device was assembled. They looked at all the unusual aspects of the phone. These included the iris scanner, water resistance, fast charging, etc. When they figured out it was the battery, they quickly commissioned supplier #2 to build the replacements.
In their mad rush to push out the replacement Note 7 devices, they ended up with another flaw that was just as catastrophic as the first. When the first wave of replacements were free of issues, Samsung increased the order exponentially. Unfortunately, that supplier was not able to handle the volume, and quality control problems made their way into the batteries. Welding bars were unusually tall, and penetrated the separator and insulation between the positive and negative sides. We all know they then made the call to kill the device. Tragic!
Samsung has worked with 3rd parties to identify these flaws, and develop new procedures to prevent future issues. They now have a much more intense series of tests and quality control measures in place. This means we should not expect to see any battery problems with the upcoming Galaxy S8. In the meantime, the S7 and S7 Edge have soldiered on as the company’s flagship devices.
Will Samsung overcome the trust issues that the average consumer may have? Do you geeks feel safe buying their future flagship devices in 2017? Let us know!