Update, February 6: Two weeks after Samsung finally announced what caused the Note 7 overheating incidents, Korea’s product safety watchdog revealed the results of its own investigation (WSJ, paywalled), which was conducted in parallel with Samsung’s. Like Samsung’s report, the government investigation identified two distinct issues: excessive pressure generated by the battery casing (in case of the batteries supplied by Samsung SDI) and the lack of insulation tape due to a manufacturer error (for the batteries made by Amperex Technology). The government body said it did not identify any issues with other parts of the phone and that it would not seek to apply any penalties.

Original post, January 22: Samsung went through hell after the recall and discontinuation of the Galaxy Note 7, which kept catching on fire. It all quickly became a PR mess large enough that Samsung could not simply dismiss the issue. An explanation has been long overdue and the Korean manufacturer has finally announced what was wrong with the popular phablet.

After an apology and a short backstory, Samsung went on to explain their testing process and results, which are not far from what Bloomberg had previously reported.

Samsung went through elaborate tests using over 200 thousand devices. These focused on feature abnormalities regarding water resistance, fast charging, wireless charging, the iris scanner, software and the USB Type C. None of these Samsung internal tests showed any issues. They then went on to closely examine the production process and asked help from 3rd party investigators, including UL, Exponent and TUV Rheinland AG.

What was found? A couple issues, each affecting the different Note 7 versions (the recalled units and the replacements). The first batteries seem to be affected by a design flaw in the top corners. More specifically, the upper-right corner, which could come with abnormalities.

Positive and negative electrodes are usually separated by a protective layer. If said protective layer is damaged, the electrodes can meet and cause a short circuit. Which seems to be one of the issues with the second batch.

Replacement batteries were affected by “abnormally high welding bars that formed during the ultra-sonic welding process to attach the positive tab. Due to the high-welding bars, penetration of the insulation tape and the separator resulted in direct contact with the negative electrode. In addition, we found a number of batteries that were missing the insulation tape.”

Affected units show common abnormalities in the same areas, according to 3rd-party research firm UL. The same company also goes on to reaffirm the root cause was the deformations in the upper corners of the battery, as well as a thin separator within the battery.

Samsung and all other investigating parties go through rather complex explanations of their testing. Those who want to get all the details can head over to Samsung’s blog post, which offers information and links to all other research.

 

Now that it is all cleared out, we can kiss the Note 7 goodbye and expect Samsung to have learnt from these problems. The Korean manufacturer promises to adopt harsher preventive measures; but how many of you are looking to get Samsung’s new super-sized smartphone? Is this hot mess pushing you away from the popular smartphone series?

Edgar Cervantes
Edgar Cervantes has over 5 years of experience in tech journalism. Exploring the latest gadgets and constantly studying the industry are part of is daily drive. Regardless of what he is working on, you can be sure he is always trying his best to bring you the best content. He will be dead honest and will bend to nothing.
  • Moshe A

    Well, how do we know we can count on samsung not to make the same mistake with the s8?
    I hope they won’t take any shortcuts in designing their phones and batteries.

    • Grant Ding

      If you saw the other article, this was primarily a manufacturing issue. So while I hope that samsung will up the ante with their quality control, I don’t know if they’re going to go with a different factory/ production plant but with any luck this issue won’t arise a second time. I mean it’s not a really elusive problem, I think they could avoid it.

    • Tabs2IsBoss #SamsungKnights

      Samsung is technology and Android always has been since March 2011. I will be purchasing the S8PLUS in April and the Note8 and NoteFold in September.

      At the end of the day if you’re not rolling with Samsung then your not rolling period WHY settle for less on Android.

      • squiddy20

        Wow. Not only the same exact drivel you’ve been spewing since 2011 too, but a complete non-answer of Moshe A’s question. You really are a Grade A moron.
        “WHY settle for” another possible phone to catch fire due to lack of QA and/or manufacturing defects?

        • Tabs2IsBoss #SamsungKnights

          My biggest closet fan thanks for following me oh since 2009 what would you’re sad useless life be like without the Internet and me.

      • balcobomber25

        You must mean rolling as in stop, drop and roll. That’s what Samsung owners had to do with the Note 7.

    • stfu

      If anything, samsung is going to become the safest oem from hereon.

  • Fred Knapp

    I bought a mate 9

    • stfu

      Who the fuck cares?

    • Alexandre Pelletier

      lmao why the hell would you get a mate 9? I bought a iphone 7 plus lmao grats me

      • Benjamin Haube

        Have fun with your Fisher Price phone.

      • mark

        I bought a feature phone too.

        Oh wait, no, that was 10 years ago.

      • balcobomber25

        And yet you hang out on Android sites….

      • Fred Knapp

        because its a superior device.

    • Daggett Beaver |dBz|

      I had pork chops for dinner.

      • TechTonic

        my neck is a little itchy

    • Derek

      So did I, Huawei makes a better phone than Samsung now.

      • definitely-not-spam

        you should definitely look into doing stand-up comedy

        • balcobomber25

          You should definitely look into the Mate 9, nothing he said was funny, it was all truth.

  • f.13

    Even though I love my S7 Edge, I’d love even more if Samsung fixed the battery of the Note 7 and relaunched that model just for the hell of it. I would buy one on the spot.

    • definitely-not-spam

      It would be unnecessary, as they’re already trying their best to have a successful launch for the s8 in the coming months. I personally would rather than use the knowledge form this to ensure it never happens again, and not spread themselves too thin.

  • Amitoj Singh

    what ever samsung accepts it made a mistake and made good on its promise
    if it relaunched the note 7 i’d buy it in a heartbeat

    • Scr-U-gle

      Made good in its promise, what promise, that it was a third party battery and they solved the issue!?!

      They didn’t.

      What a surprise the Korean government didn’t sanction Samboom, the PM is still waiting fir her new horse for on Samboom!

  • Rishabh

    Well, i would be happier if samsung relaunched the note 7 with new and safe batteries along with the galaxy s8. I bet people would buy the note more than the s8.

    • Benjamin Haube

      The name “Note 7” is forever tarnished. They will never relaunch it. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they canned the Note brand altogether.

      • Choda Boy

        It is a good thing the name of the phone is “Note7”, so it’s name is still good!

      • Kristine

        No they have already stated there will be a Note8 (not sure of name), I had to return my AMAZING Note7 but I WILL be purchasing the next Note for sure! :)

      • Gadgetonomy

        No they have confirmed the Note brand will stay. They have to really raise the bar to win consumers over. The Note 8 will have a huge build up to the most exciting launch of a phone ever.

    • thereasoner

      The Galaxy S series phones always outsell the Note. Most people have no use for a stylus and they’re Samsungs most expensive phones, that said, the Note series have a large and dedicated following for sure and they are easily the most powerful phablets.

      As for the Note 8 name? Koh said that they will continue to make them and even used the Note 8 name but I’m not sure if that will be the final name as Samsung has already used Note 8 for a tablet before and I’m not sure that they’d want to use it again for a phone.

    • balcobomber25

      People will buy the Note 8 when it launches but the Note 7 is dead. There has been too much bad publicity about it, not to mention it is banned in several countries. Consumers wouldn’t buy it if it was called the Note 7.

  • Collis M

    Wish they would relaunch the Note 7. Another legend gone too soon!

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    • Gibbs

      another overpriced laggy phone from samsung which costs more than a gaming PC

      • Collis M

        Definitely costs less than a gaming PC and wasn’t laggy.

        • Gibbs

          … a gaming pc can cost from 300-400$ to 10000$
          and it’s laggy to me even xda made an article about it, but remember i”m the person who can tell 60-70-75 fps from another, most people can’t even tell 30-60fps from each other (my father) so it’s not laggy to everybody, but for me it’s laggy, but not unsuabel (my note 4, that was unusable laggy, my s7 edge is laggy to the point of discomfort but not to the point of wanting to smash the phone with a hammer xD)

  • Natty Bee

    Well, as soon as the Note8 comes out, I’ll be buying, for sure!

  • Ivan Budiutama

    so… long story short, it’s too thin? It can be avoided if you make the phone not too thin ?

    • stfu

      Long story short, it has nothing to do with thinness. It’s the quality of the manufacturing of the batteries. The note 7 design was in all respects ok.

      • Ivan Budiutama

        I don’t know, it was said that the abnormal form factor of the battery and the welding process was the issue. I mean if you give more space to the battery design, it could easily avoided, thus, make the phone thicker. It happened twice, though, with initial battery and the replacement. From what I understand the battery was designed to fit the current form factor thus it couldn’t really change much. thus making another mess with the replacement.

        But I might be wrong though.

        • stfu

          Nope. Otherwise, it’d have been present in much more than just a few note 7 units. The thickness doesnt matter, as the defect is mostly confined to the top right area and even to the internal aspect of some of the batteries themselves. It’s pure and simply a bad manufacturing process.

          • Ivan Budiutama

            right, found another article, my suspicious because it happened on the replacement also. AA version of article doesn’t really tell which defect on which version of battery (initial or replacement) other article explained the two cause separately and much more organized. my bad

        • Hashan Wickramasinghe

          There has been thinner phones that never caught fire. Thinness isn’t the issue. The issue is the lack of QC in the battery manufacturing process. They may have to look at their defect rate. 3.4 PPMO isn’t good enough in Samsung’s case considering that they sell 10s of millions of smartphones with so many components in each phone. (Billions of components)

      • Mike Bastable

        The design was in all respects ok? Dude it seems rather fundamental that when producing a handset that is essentially 80℅ battery and screen (powered by did battery) that the specifications and performance of the battery are integral to the design of said product. Thus despite some clever word play from Samsung the conclusion here is that there were some rather severe design mistakes made in this flawed handset.
        The rushed reaction to the initial problem exacerbated these issues.
        The next handsets will be awesome and hopefully all OEMs have learned from this fiasco.

    • Daggett Beaver |dBz|

      No, long story short, the batteries were manufactured with defects.

    • balcobomber25

      Long story short, Samsung put profits over safety and used cheaply designed batteries.

  • stfu

    And people kept blaming non-removability of the battery as the culprit. Even worse, they believed that rubbish about there not being enough room in the battery compartment or some trash. Idiots.

  • LastKings31

    If they already have note 7 parts why not do a little redesign make the phone a bit ticker and pop new batteries in and resale it?

    • Prime

      The Note 8 will be out in a few months. There no reason for Samsung to throw good money onto a tainted product with another one coming up.

      • Marc Perrusquia

        Lot longer than a few months. If it even comes out it’ll be August to possibly October.

        • Kristine

          And its definitely worth waiting for! I have already started planning for my very exciting day of trading in my Note7 replacement phone-LGV20!

    • balcobomber25

      It would cost them too much at this point and the damage has already been done publicly and politicaly (banned in several countries). The mass consumer market would not purchase it and retailers would not sell it. Samsung made the right call financially to take the hit and kill it off.

  • Kunal Narang

    Yeah, now that was a detailed explanation and one that customers deserve.

  • Dude McDuderson

    Holy crap please post a TL;DR at the end.

    • The One

      Seriously?! Half the article was pictures, and those pictures summarized the entire problem for you. This was a relatively short article that required only a modest amount of reading. Don’t be lazy.

      • Dude McDuderson

        Don’t be a pretentious douche.

        • The One

          OK

  • Anon

    TL;DR – bad engineering.

  • KRB

    It bodes the argument for removable batteries. I mean I know Android has moved away from removable batteries, I’ve sworn by removable batteries but even I’ve purchased phones with built in batteries. But with a removable battery, all this would’ve simply been investigation, test, manufacturing of new batteries and a swap by mail. Take the old one out, put the new one in and be done with it. Instead it cost Samsung one of their biggest products…

    Had a ZTE Overture once that was experiencing severe issues and it would constantly freeze and restart. What did I do to remedy the issue? Took the battery out.

    • Andrew Lyons

      No they wouldn’t because they didn’t know the cause.

    • balcobomber25

      Except they tried replacement batteries and didn’t work, phones were still catching on fire as it says in the article. Being able to replace the batteries wouldn’t have solved anything because the batteries themselves were flawed. This was the result of bad engineering and design.

      This bodes the argument for more research and QA testing before a device releases.

  • S6andNote4isBoss

    It’s nothing to be shocked about truthfully when you churn out as many handsets as Samsung does yearly it’s bound to happen where some are bad.

    First time for everything I’d rather it be to Samsung’s Note line instead of it’s Galaxy S line mission accomplished issue fixed.

    Least they was forthright took the billions of dollars hit that came with it and moved forward unlike Apple and it’s iPhone 7 and 7plus battery problems.

    Samsung is the only Android manufacturer who can take billions of dollars for a hit financially and still be standing tall and strong.

    #NothingBeatsSamsung

    • Kristine

      Agreed!!!

    • Jerónimo Stupenengo

      And they even had their best year (earned most money) since 2013

    • Scr-U-gle

      They had no choice but to withdraw the Not 7, where did you bury yourself when that happened?

  • Choda Boy

    If I cannot have my Note7 back, then I cannot wait for the Note8!

  • Marius Tomas

    wow some comments are just hilarious! Comment zone = war zone

    • balcobomber25

      Phones are like Game of Thrones. Everyone has their side and they will fight to the death to defend it.

  • diveek

    its articles like this i have interest in reading artices

  • Tommy

    well, battery is one thing.. but put pure android on Note 8 and I will not resist

    • Soundjudgment

      Will there be a Note8? Yes! Will it be ‘pure Android?’ Absolutely not!

  • Ralphie C

    MotoZ seems to be the best phone right now. With mods for fun, style and substance, it will surely make most very happy.
    I’m still using a MotoX2 pure, which is still amazing and I have no reason to upgrade. Plus, I like the 5.2″ screen size.

  • Don’t know why People buy Samsung cell phones, I thought they living their life very boring, and for that boring life to make and interesting the Bought Fire Crackers Like “Note 7”.

  • PromethianKnight

    Props for Samsung for giving such an in-depth analysis to the public. Also glad Samsung is still keeping the Note brand alive.
    Lets see what they’ll come up with…

  • Sonpreet Singh

    i would buy the next Samsung Note because i’m sure they will do more harsh tests before launching any of there devices in the future.

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  • ChrisGX

    Actually, the tests described in Samsung’s special Note 7 event, while they impress in extensiveness they come up short as standard testing practice (assuming the tests were accurately described). As Samsung moved from exploratory testing to testing suspected battery faults and failure modes it should have also done baseline or control testing – tests conducted with good batteries known not to have any of the failure modes. What this kind of testing would have been looking at is whether any scenarios could be established where current draw could become elevated or where thermal characteristics would become abnormal. Without diminishing Samsung’s investigations I would still maintain that it hasn’t really ruled out a multi factor failure where phone design flaws could have contributed as a minor factor to the failures that have been witnessed.

    Of course, this is all moot now. The Note 7 is gone and it isn’t coming back.

  • HotelQuebec

    Typical of batteries manufactured in China. Japanese and South Korean manufactured batteries don’t have issues.

  • Winter_z

    Well the reality is that going forward Samsung will probably be the safest phones when it comes to battery’s given the amount of money and scrutiny thats going in to the this. The Free market at work.

  • Amber

    my Galaxy S8 is overheating and even my charging is paused and I get an overheating battery message and all Samsung did was say to send my phone in and they can fix it and return in 11-14 business days, meanwhile I have no phone. TMobile didn’t care either in store or on the phone and I have been loyal 16yrs and switched from loyal iPhone user to Samsung and this is how I am treated! ugh I am already stressed enough