Samsung confirms cause of Note7 battery fires, launch of Galaxy S8 delayed

23 Jan 2017

An investigation has confirmed the cause of the Note7 battery recall. Image: Samsung

The cause of the most expensive product recall in tech industry history has been confirmed – Samsung said a catalogue of errors surrounding the Note7’s battery was at the heart of the problem.

Samsung concluded a months-long investigation by pinpointing two factors: the first battery was defective and the replacement battery had manufacturing faults.

In what has to be the biggest product recall in tech industry history, Samsung had to recall around 2.5m Note7 smartphones after consumers began complaining about the devices catching fire and, in some cases, exploding.

At first Samsung, admitted the problem and began a replacement drive.

But very quickly, it was discovered that the second batch also had defects.

In recent weeks, Samsung revealed that 96pc of all Samsung Note7 devices had been returned – a process accelerated by a software update that permanently disabled charging on outstanding devices.

Cause and effect of battery debacle

According to Samsung, the first battery suffered from a design flaw due to the battery’s external casing being too small, which caused the components inside to short-circuit and ignite.

The second replacement battery did not have the same defects, but in the rush to produce enough batteries, manufacturing defects crept in, once again causing safety issues. In particular, a number of batteries were missing vital insulation tape, causing direct contact between the positive tab and the negative electrode on the battery.

The product failure was a massive PR disaster for Samsung and wiped $5.3bn off its operating profit.

Samsung mobile chief Koh Dong-Jin said that procedures have been put in place to avoid a repeat of the safety problems.

“The lessons of this incident are deeply reflected in our culture and processes,” Koh said.

“Samsung will be working hard to regain consumer trust.”

Repercussions: Delay of Samsung Galaxy S8

The drama will have caused a lot of soul-searching within Samsung and an emphasis on quality over quantity with future product releases.

Indeed, Samsung’s next flagship device – the Galaxy S8 – will not be launched at its traditional shindig at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Koh confirmed that the Galaxy 8 would not be unveiled at the industry trade show which begins on 27 February.

With the launch of the S8, whenever it does happen, Samsung will undoubtedly be keen to restore its reputation and regain consumer loyalty.

Samsung investigation infographic

Samsung confirms cause of Note7 battery fires, launch of Galaxy S8 delayed

Infographic: Samsung

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years