Samsung believes it has found the cause of the Note7 battery fires

20 Jan 2017

Intact and damaged Samsung batteries. Image: Mehmet Cetin/Shutterstock

Ahead of the release of its official report into the Galaxy Note7 debacle, Samsung has found that the cause of the battery issues was down to a manufacturing error that saw a number of irregularly sized batteries.

The Samsung Galaxy Note7 will remembered for years to come – not as a great smartphone, but one that has led to one of the greatest PR disasters for a tech company in decades.

With a number of users reporting that their phones were overheating to the point of exploding, airlines banned their use on flights, which was followed by Samsung’s decision to recall all phones and cease production of the device.

Manufacturer faults

Ahead of its report to be published on 23 January, The Wall Street Journal has reported that Samsung will reveal its findings into what it believes was behind the faults.

According to sources within the company, the fault was down to a manufacturing issue that resulted in batteries of irregular size, causing the dangerous cases of overheating.

There were also a number of other manufacturing faults during production of the batteries, leading to the disastrous consequences that were so publicly showcased by users and the media.

When the phone began selling commercially in August of last year, its batteries were produced by either a Samsung affiliate, or a company called Amperex Technology based in Hong Kong, which manufactures its batteries in China.

As Samsung’s engineers believed the fault to lie with the former, production of the Amperex Technology batteries increased substantially to meet recall demands.

Pressure to meet demand

However, the same faults were being reported in the newer phones, resulting in the total recall of all Note7 phones and the ceasing of production.

Further analysis of the batteries produced by the two groups has found the different faults that led to the same problem.

In the batteries produced by the Samsung affiliate Samsung SDI, the batteries were irregularly sized, while the Amperex batteries were flawed because of as-yet unexplained manufacturing issues, caused by the pressure to meet recall demands.

Samsung SDI and Amperex have not responded to the WSJ with comments.

Meanwhile, within Samsung’s corporate structure, there was a sigh of relief recently as the company’s de-facto chief Jay Y Lee avoided a potential arrest surrounding the scandal of impeached South Korean president Park Geun-hye.

Intact and damaged Samsung batteries. Image: Mehmet Cetin/Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic