Samsung has announced the official results of an investigation into the cause of the battery fires that sparked a massive Galaxy Note 7 recall last year. Identifying the root cause of the issues with the Galaxy Note 7 was very important to the company. Koh Dong-Jin, president of Samsung Electronics Mobile Communications Business, said in an interview, “Technology innovation is important to Samsung, but our customer’s safety is more important. We want to reinstate trust in the brand.”
Samsung recorded record preorders and sales for the Note 7 when it launched back in August. Despite the rosy start, issues with the devices quickly came to the forefront. A month later in September, Samsung initiated a recall of the first version of the Note 7 due to potentially faulty batteries. By October, it had recalled over 2 million devices and discontinued the device.
The company sent text messages and emails to communicate the recall to affected consumers. Samsung also issued a software update that would disable the Galaxy Note 7’s charging abilities, rendering it useless as a phone. At the time, Samsung told the media its goal was a 100 percent recall. Less than three months later, 96 percent of the devices have been returned globally.
Samsung built a test lab staffed with 700 researchers to investigate 200,000 devices and 30,000 batteries to find the root cause of the Note 7’s issues. The whole device was tested, including multiple methods of charging. It even evaluated how third party applications were impacting the phone.
Battery manufacturing issues from two different manufacturers were found to have led to the phone fires. The first manufacturer’s battery problem was negative electrode deflections. The second manufacturer’s issue was abnormal ultrasonic welding burrs. Both problems caused a small subset of batteries to overheat with the potential to catch fire. The finding from Samsung tests and independent third party test labs revealed the same results.
In a press conference, Samsung announced its plans to remedy the situation and apply what it has learned to future product designs. The company has created a battery advisory group with specialized consultants and leaders from various universities. Samsung also has a new quality assurance process and has implemented a multi-layer safety measures protocol. The company will provide its discoveries and processes to various global standardization bodies so that other smartphone vendors can request the same inspections.