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Android Hardware

Samsung Answers Burning Note 7 Questions, Vows Better Batteries (cnet.com) 84

From a report on CNET: During a press conference Sunday, Samsung said two separate battery defects caused both the original batch of Galaxy Note 7 phones and the replacement units to overheat. The first battery, it said, suffered from a design flaw. The battery's external casing was too small for the components inside, causing it to short-circuit and ignite. The second battery, which came from another supplier, didn't have the same flaw, Justin Denison, head of product strategy and marketing for Samsung's US arm, said in an interview ahead of the press conference. In the rush to pump out enough batteries for the replacement units, though, the supplier introduced a manufacturing defect that led to the same result, he said. The explanation puts to rest the mystery behind the exploding Note 7, but it kicks off a new challenge for the embattled company: winning back your trust after a disastrous several months that included two recalls and the decision to kill the critically acclaimed phone. The Sunday press conference marked the start of a Samsung campaign to rebuild company credibility, which will include the upcoming launch of the flagship Galaxy S8 phone, as well as another Note later in the year.
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Samsung Answers Burning Note 7 Questions, Vows Better Batteries

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  • Just the Battery? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by amiga3D ( 567632 ) on Monday January 23, 2017 @09:05AM (#53720185)

    So the problem was only the battery? That means all they needed to do was make a decent battery for it and it would have been good to go. I'm kind of surprised they couldn't have fixed the problem with a recall unless it was cheaper just to trash the entire system. I think that says a lot about the entire phone business. One component and the entire Note 7 was dead. A component I swap in and out of my S5 routinely.

    • by Junta ( 36770 ) on Monday January 23, 2017 @09:18AM (#53720257)

      They just didn't have time to definitively figure out root cause and the most obvious culprit being the battery got derailed because it happened with a different battery vendor and design. It ultimately turned out to be battery issues after all, but at the time they couldn't afford to take any chances.

      Note the same thing would have happened even with replaceable batteries, though I would like to see replaceable batteries in phones for other reasons.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      They tried just that with the first recall, and the second fault was introduced because they had to produce the batteries too quickly - as said in the summary. You're right it's now fixable properly. It's taken months to find the root cause. They had to kill the phone to protect the brand. Anyone who still has a phone would in theory be able to have it repaired now by fitting a higher quality battery, but the majority will have been exchanged.

    • That means all they needed to do was make a decent battery for it and it would have been good to go. I'm kind of surprised they couldn't have fixed the problem with a recall unless it was cheaper just to trash the entire system.

      That's because you don't have a business mind set. They showed to everyone that not only was their first set of phones flame proof, but then then subsequently sent out a fix with little green icons only to have phones explode. They then recalled and replaced the defective part only to have the phone explode.

      Now what would a third recall do? The entire product's reputation had been burnt literally. The faith consumers had in them to come up with a fix was zero. Self-proclaimed experts who didn't know anythin

      • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

        You may be right. I probably don't have a business mindset. Which might explain why I am so seldom happy with businesses.

        • I have a business mindset, and even the worthless degree to go with it.

          I too am seldom happy with businesses. *sigh*

  • Just make a phone with a headphone port and a stylus and I'll be a happy camper.
  • Bullshit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 23, 2017 @09:12AM (#53720229)

    They dont answer anything, they just try to shift the blame to their two suppliers of the battery.

    So nooooo, Samsung didnt make mistakes by making the battery compartment exactly the size of the battery they ordered from two suppliers, it was the fault of "two suppliers" who did deliver a battery up to the specifications, and not one that didnt expand or heat up during usage, silly "two suppliers". So nothing to see here, move along, and get in line to buy the new and non-catching fire S8...

    Oh yeah, totally unrelated, one of "two suppliers" is Samsung SDI, which has absolutely noting to do with Samsung (exept the name and same owner)...

    • Re:Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

      by NatasRevol ( 731260 ) on Monday January 23, 2017 @09:47AM (#53720441) Journal

      At some point, you have to ask: Is Samsung just this unlucky or is there something inherent in their supply chain/processes that caused *multiple* vendors to have issues?

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        According to TFA they were just unlucky. The original Samsung batteries had a design flaw, the replacement batteries from a different company had manufacturing defects. I imagine there might be a lawsuit over the second one, since had those batteries been fine they would not have had to discontinue and refund the product entirely, and sloppy manufacturing creates liability.

        • Many of the batteries in the 2nd set were indeed just fine. it wasn't every phone that was defective. My 2nd Note 7 was, in so many ways, better than my first, felt faster, ran colder, no lock-ups. I mean, it ran ice cold, and I ran it hard. I had a tough time turning it in, and waited until December.

          The first one though, that thing was just a ticking time bomb, it ran hot ALL the time.

    • GD+T matters (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Monday January 23, 2017 @10:25AM (#53720657) Journal

      When you specify that a batteries maximum envelope is X, and the supplier provides a battery which has a maximum envelope greater than X then, yes, it's a supplier problem.

      When you request 2 million batteries instead of 200,000, and your supplier changes the process which induces a flaw into the product then, yes, it's a supplier problem.

      This is critical because the "engineers" (idiots) over at ExtremeTech published "findings" (a middle school essay on their thought experiment backed up with zero observed failures) said that the problem was in the case and had nothing to do with the design of the battery. Blaming the phone case for the problem is like blaming users hands for the iPhone antenna problem. It's not a problem with what it holding the (iPhone, battery) but rather that the (iPhone, battery) was not designed properly for the specified requirements.

      In both cases, it's imperative that the overall product producer take responsibility to the end users for products which do not work as intended. Which they did - recalling the devices, offer full refunds and - in many cases - a credit for accessories that you didn't even purchase from them.

      • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

        When you specify that a batteries maximum envelope is X, and the supplier provides a battery which has a maximum envelope greater than X then, yes, it's a supplier problem.

        Except that this isn't what happened, according to the much-more-detailed Anandtech article [anandtech.com]. Samsung specified the maximum exterior dimensions of the pouch, but those dimensions weren't big enough to accommodate the battery material itself. The second battery was slightly thicker, but suffered the same failure because of the thickness o

        • but those dimensions weren't big enough to accommodate the battery material itself

          So... battery supplier problem just like the GP said.

          The second battery was slightly thicker, but suffered the same failure because of the thickness of welds on the very same parts that caused the first battery failure.

          So... battery supplier problem just like the GP said.

          • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

            but those dimensions weren't big enough to accommodate the battery material itself

            So... battery supplier problem just like the GP said.

            Yes and no. Samsung specified both the enclosure size and the watt-hour capacity (which determines the size of the material inside). Thus, if it wasn't physically possible to meet both specifications at the same time, the specs were ultimately at fault.

            The battery supplier is, of course, partially to blame for not detecting the problem and telling Samsung that their sp

            • the specs were ultimately at fault.

              Nope, the supplier is still at fault for not coming back and saying that the specs are not attainable. The phone manufacturer wasn't the expert here, the battery manufacture was (same company in the first case).

              And as it turns out in the second design the problem was exclusively due to the upscaling of the manufacturing process, not due to the design of the battery or being unable to meet the specs.

              So.. Supplier at fault in every way you look at it.

    • They dont answer anything, they just try to shift the blame to their two suppliers of the battery.

      They didn't answer anything. The review was done by an independent third party. The third party blamed the suppliers. One of the suppliers is ... Samsung.

      So nooooo, Samsung didnt make mistakes by making the battery compartment exactly the size of the battery they ordered from two suppliers it was the fault of "two suppliers" who did deliver a battery up to the specifications, and not one that didnt expand or heat up during usage, silly "two suppliers". So nothing to see here, move along, and get in line to buy the new and non-catching fire S8...

      Oh this? Are you still trusting that company of 3 software engineers and 2 project managers who declared themselves hardware design experts over the likes of UL, Exponent, and TUV Rheinland which all reviewed this case?

      I can see you're not using your brain. To be honest with your comment I'm not even sure you have one.

  • Better batteries? For real?

    Removable ones?

    • Indeed. Seriously, how compelling is it that a phone be waterproof, as opposed to it not explode? How many people drop their phones in the swimming pool, or in the toilet? How many are divers who like having underwater conversations w/ their dates?

      • you don't live in the PNW do you?

        Dropping a phone or having a spill on a device thats always near you, is actually VERY COMMON, which is why it became important to make them water resistant.

        • What is PNW? I bought wallet casings for each of my phones, partly to have them double as wallets, and partly to protect them from drops. And somehow, I've never spilt any liquid on my phone, although I know accidents do happen
          • sorry for the delay in response, the PNW=> american speak for the Pacific North West (WA / ORegon).

            The weather here is frequently rainy and moist for 2/3rds of the year, though this winter seems off a bit from that normal rut. I use a wallet case now too, but puddles abound!

            • Okay, I get you. Although I tend to use my phone more indoors - be it in the house or car or somewhere inside. Usually, if I'm outdoors, I have to put the phone on speaker due to the ambient noise, which creates problems for the person at the other end of the call. Hence, I'm rarely affected by the phone getting wet - even had I lived in Seattle
  • by H3lldr0p ( 40304 ) on Monday January 23, 2017 @09:20AM (#53720265) Homepage

    it was supposed to be slotted into was too small.

    It wasn't a engineering problem that was at fault, it was an aesthetic one. Trying to make things too thin and too fragile all in the name of keeping up with Apple. Samsung over-engineered the housing where any imperfection in the battery used could cause trouble. And imperfections did cause trouble. Imperfections, if reports are to be believed, that should have been well tolerated.

    So maybe it's time to back off the thinness race and, you know, work on creating a unique look and feel.

    • and the lack of an battery swap cover.

      If they had that then it would of easy to send new battery's out!

      • But it turned out that the batteries were the problem and it took 4 months to determine what the problem was. So you would have been batteryless and phoneless for 4 months. Given the shitstorm of people wanting same-day replacements for the first recall (ironically leading to the flaw in the second round of batteries), I don't think having a batteryless phone for 4 months would have set well with the users. And if it were a recall issue, CPSC and FAA would have still had the ban in place until a proper, saf

        • if the batteries were replaceable, the phones would at least not be headed to a landfill to rest with the ET Atari cartridges.

          Maybe Elon Musk could figure out how to bundle them for rocket fuel...

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Not really... Certainly having a smaller space made battery manufacture a little more challenging and exacerbated the issues, but the problems were not caused by the form factor.

      The original Samsung batteries were just badly designed, but that could have happened with any change in form factor, even a change to a bigger one. The second batch of batteries from a different company were just poor quality, again nothing to do with the form factor and everything to do with poor welding and failure to install ins

    • Have you never heard of ANSI Y14.5? Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing? Manufacturing since the last 19th century?

      The batteries were too big, the case was sized properly.

      Imagine this: You order a Large hat. The company sends you a hat with a Large tag in it, but it doesn't fit because the manufacturer actually sent you a Medium with a Large tag sewn into it. Who's fault is it that your hat doesn't fit? Blaming the Note 7 case is the same as saying that your head is just too fucking big for the hat they

    • by Zack63 ( 4644519 )
      I agree, I would happily have a thicker phone for more battery life
    • it was supposed to be slotted into was too small.

      Indeed it wouldn't have been. Except this is not what happened in this case. The dimensions were given to the battery manufactures (including Samsung themselves), who subsequently screwed it up.

  • Truly explosive answers to this fiery torrent of questions that have consumed the world like a gas station attendant making their final call on a Note 7! ;)

  • When I see the list of upper management people who were fired over this, I will consider buying another Samsung product. Otherwise, and especially in light of their "exploding" washing machine fiasco in November, I will continue to operate under the assumption that their QA problems have not been fixed. Disappointing too, since I used to think quite highly of Samsung products.

  • Based on this response, I'm 95% sure that it was Samsung that did not allow enough space for the battery to expand under load in the battery bay of the phone. The battery case is typically not strong enough to compress the battery as it expands, intentionally. Given the fact that the Samsung CEO is looking at bribery charges and how they handled the failures and recall in the first place, I don't trust Samsung as far as I can throw them without a lot more detail than what was provided today.

    The fact that

  • What a disappointment. I had grown fond of Samsung's explosive devices.

Leveraging always beats prototyping.

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