While a lot of people across the world were surprised to see a premium phablet like the Galaxy Note 7 go up in flames, they were even more surprised with Samsung's failure to detect root causes for the disaster. Samsung has been investigating the cause of Galaxy Note 7 fires since October and also claimed to fix the cause once, but to no avail until now.
As had been predicted by various news outlets and rumour coloumns, Samsung today announced the results of its investigations into the cause of Galaxy Note 7 incidents which forced the company to issue a global recall last year.
Samsung didn't pin-point any particular culprit in its post-investigation press release but said that based on its observations during the investigation, it is implementing new measures like multi-layer safety measures and 8-Point Battery Safety Check to ensure such instances do not happen again.
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Samsung also revealed that its investigation wasn't totally in-house. The company formed an expert group of advisors and research experts who advised it on battery safety and innovation. Named the Battery Advisory Group, the group includes Clare Grey, Gerbrand Ceder, Yi Cui and Toru Amazutsumi who hold Ph.D. in Chemistry and Materials Science and Engineering and work in various universities and consultancy firms.
“For the last several months, together with independent industry expert organizations, we conducted thorough investigation to find cause to the Galaxy Note7 incidents. 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,” said DJ Koh, President of Mobile Communications Business at Samsung Electronics.
Samsung's new measures like multi-layer safety measures and 8-Point Battery Safety Check could feature in Samsung's upcoming Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus as well as a number of other smartphones whoich the company may launch over the course of the year.
Citing sources, the Reuters reports that Samsung has finally concluded its investigation into the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco and has determined that the real reason behind the phablets catching fire or exploding were their batteries.
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Now that the cat is out of the bag, we are awaiting Samsung's detailed report on the fiasco, why their quality control mechanism failed and how they intend to ensure that their future smartphones do not suffer from similar issues. According to the Reuters, Samsung may publish a detailed report on 23 January but there has been no official confirmation of the same from Samsung so far.
Incidentally, when Samsung began investigating the cause of Note 7 fires when fresh reports of such incidents started arriving last year, the company had blamed SDI batteries for the same. However, this turned out to be baseless as a different set of batteries supplied by a different supplier also combusted at the same rate as the SDI batteries, which forced Samsung to investigate further and also stop production of Galaxy Note 7 handsets permanently.
Meanwhile, a number of experts have also claimed that Samsung's design concept for the Note 7 may have played a major part in the fiasco. "These theories (about causes for Galaxy Note 7 fires) all suggest a battery part-level issue, likely due to Samsung pushing the manufacturing parameters a little too far in order to make the highest capacity battery in the smallest package. But, if it was only a battery part issue and could have been salvaged by a re-spin of the battery, why cancel the product line and cede several quarters of revenue to competitors? We believe that there was more in play: that there was a fundamental problem with the design of the phone itself," said Anna Shedletsky, hardware engineer at Instrumental.
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The Korea Heraldpreviously reported that Samsung will finally announce the results of an internal investigation before the end of the year. The internal investigation was launched on November 11 and involved product safety authorities both in Korea as well as the United States. Samsung had initially thought that faulty batteries were the source of all the troubles but later said that the explosions may have been caused by other factors.
So far, Samsung has taken various steps to wind down the noise generated by the Galaxy Note 7 controversy like blocking parody videos on YouTube by staking copyright claims, drafting new compensation programmes in several countries and limiting battery life of existing Galaxy Note 7 devices to 60% to prevent mishaps. However, it seems that the Galaxy Note 7 issue, which the company estimated will cost it up to $5.3 billion, has rattled it so much that a major top management change is on the cards with Lee Jae-yong, the grandson of Samsung's founder Lee Byung-chull, expected to take over the reigns of the mobile division in the coming days. It will be interesting to see if such a change will indeed take place after Samsung publishes the results of it's internal investigation.
Samsung chose to test Note 7 batteries in-house over test labs
While the delay in finding root causes for the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco forced Samsung to altogether stop production and sales of Galaxy Note 7 handsets, it has also reportedly delayed development of the Galaxy S8 by two weeks. This has been done to find out the root cause of the Galaxy Note 7 fires before starting work on the Galaxy S8. However, given that Samsung has been trying to figure out the exact cause of the issue for the last couple of months, we wonder if a couple of weeks will be enough for Samsung's Galaxy S8 development team to find out the cause that has stumped the company and made them lose billions in share price.
The Korea Herald reported last month that Samsung is working on a new compensation programme for those who purchased the Galaxy Note 7 which may include discounts on future flagship phones. The new compensation programme will be aimed at offering discounts to customers against purchases of future flagship phones which may include the Galaxy S8, the Galaxy S8 Edge or the Galaxy Note 8. The information comes in the backdrop of a number of dissatisfied Galaxy Note 8 buyers threatening to file lawsuits against the company for selling them faulty Galaxy Note 7 handsets. The report also highlights that a number of Galaxy Note 7 buyers haven't returned their handsets yet as there are 'few options to choose in the market.'