Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 made headlines in 2016 for all the wrong reasons: namely, the phones were spontaneously combusting. After a worldwide, permanent recall and several investigations, Samsung has confirmed that batteries caused the incidents and detailed the design flaws that were to blame. In an effort to keep history from repeating itself, the Korean company has also outlined new, more stringent quality assurance procedures.
After the Note 7 fires became apparent, Samsung halted production and recalled the devices. Out of the three million units sold, the company says that about 96 percent have now been returned, so if you're one of the remaining four percent still carrying that accident-waiting-to-happen around in your pocket, for the love of god send it back immediately.
Over the past few months, Samsung says over 700 researchers worked to replicate the issue, using more than 200,000 Galaxy Note 7s and 30,000 batteries. Through Samsung's investigation, as well as those of three independent industry organizations, the fires were eventually attributed to short circuits in the batteries. The positive and negative electrodes were coming into contact with each other as a result of several different faults, in two different types of batteries.
In one, a manufacturing issue created an "electrode displacement," bending the tip of the negative electrode in the upper-right corner of the battery and causing it to touch parts it really shouldn't be touching. In the second type of battery, imperfections in the welding process were pushing the positive electrode up through the insulation tape and the separator, bringing it into contact with the negative electrode. In some cases the batteries were actually missing that layer of insulation tape completely.
To keep this kind of problem from happening again, Samsung has plotted out detailed new safety measures. For starters, all new batteries will be wrung through an eight-point safety check test that will see them being charged and discharged repeatedly, inspected visually and via X-Ray, and absolutely abused by being overcharged, physically damaged and subjected to extreme weather and temperature stress tests. The batteries will be disassembled and assessed, checked for leakage and changes in voltage, and run through accelerated usage simulations.
These safety standards will also influence the design of future devices. Hardware-wise, new brackets will be added around the battery, and on the software side of things, Samsung promises to improve the algorithms that regulate the temperature and current while a battery is being charged, and how long it should spend on the charger.
The company has also put together a battery advisory group made up of experts from the likes of Cambridge, Stanford and UC Berkeley, in an effort to keep Samsung on the right path in regards to safety.
Will these efforts be enough to earn Samsung some good will back? Its other devices remain among our favorite phones, but there's no denying that some users may still feel burned (no pun intended) by the whole fiasco. Being transparent certainly can't hurt the company's chances of bouncing back. All that's left now is for the Galaxy Note 8 (or whatever the successor is called) to really knock our socks off.
Lean more about the recall, investigation and new safety measures in the video below.