Mobility

Samsung Note 7 Fires Caused By ‘Two Separate’ Battery Flaws, S8 Could Be Delayed

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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Two distinct short-circuit issues introduced by suppliers caused Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 devices to overheat

Samsung said late on Sunday an investigation concluded that internal defects in the batteries used in the recalled Galaxy Note 7 devices caused the handsets to overheat and catch fire, and that the fault was not with the handsets themselves.

The company said all the devices it’s planning to release this year were designed and manufactured after the Note 7 recall and have been tested according to new measures put into place since then.

samsung-galaxy-note-7-5

 

Galaxy S8 delay?

That includes the Galaxy S8 expected to be released this spring. Samsung mobile communications president DJ Koh said at a press conference in Seoul the S8’s release schedule was not “meaningfully” affected by the Note 7 issues, but he said the device would not be released at the Mobile World Congress trade show beginning 27 February.

Ssources within Samsung were earlier cited as saying the company planned to release the S8   in April, rather than the usual late-February or early-March release window, in order to allow time to rebuild public confidence.

At the Sunday press conference Samsung said it had carried out extensive testing during the months since the recall, as did independent industry groups UL, Exponent and TUV Rheinland, which came to the same conclusions as Samsung.

Samsung used two separate battery suppliers for the device, and the initial problems were caused by a design flaw found in only one of those batteries, which it called Battery A.

Following the first recall Samsung stopped using Battery A and instead increased its order from the second supplier. But in its efforts to vastly expand production that supplier introduced a separate flaw into Battery B that also caused the batteries to overheat.

The design flaw in Battery A was an external casing that was too small and didn’t allow the battery to expand and contract during charge and discharge cycles. As a result the positive and negative electrodes came into contact, causing a short-circuit, Samsung said.

The initial samples of Battery B were not flawed, but after Samsung ordered about 10 million new units, the battery maker introduced errors including protrusions that were left over from the ultrasonic welding process.

Those errors also caused a short-circuit.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 (2)

Third-party flaws

The battery makers, not Samsung, were responsible for the internal design of the batteries and testing their safety, the company said.

Samsung said it would introduce a new testing process that would include some of the testing procedures previously carried out by suppliers, along with new steps.

Samsung and third-party testers weren’t able to cause the phones to overheat with other batteries, leading them to conclude neither the handset hardware nor software were flawed.

“Devices and batteries were repeatedly charged and discharged, simulating incidents in the field,” Koh said at the event, according to multiple reports. “This indicated that incidents were caused by the battery cell itself and we proceeded to focus our investigation on our batteries.”

Nevertheless, the company said it would add more space for the battery within its handsets as a precaution.

Samsung said it is now focused on restoring consumers’ confidence in its handsets.

“Today, more than ever, we are committed to earning the trust of our customers through innovation that redefines what is possible in safety, and as a gateway to unlimited possibilities and incredible new experiences,” Koh stated.

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