Samsung reveals cause of Galaxy Note 7 fires

  • Samsung says 700 researchers analysed 200,000 Note 7 devices
  • The devices were repeatedly charged and discharged
  • Samsung discovered short circuiting from manufacturing and product quality issues
  • 96 per cent of 3 million Note 7s have been returned globally

THE world's largest smartphone maker has blamed not one but two poorly made batteries for a series of fires across the world and two unprecedented recalls costing billions of dollars.

Samsung revealed the findings of its Galaxy Note 7 investigation at a worldwide press conference today, which mobile communications business president DJ Koh started by "deeply" apologising to customers for the global failure.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphone was launched on August 19 only to be recalled two weeks later after many of the devices caught fire, including one that damaged a Melbourne hotel room and another that allegedly caught fire on a plane, causing its evacuation.

Mr Koh said Samsung hired three external firms to investigate why the smartphones were catching fire, in addition to setting up its own laboratory to test 200,000 devices and 30,000 batteries.

The company, he said, tested all aspects of the smartphone, including its fast-charging battery system, software, water-resistance, and even its iris scanner.

"We believe that as a first step to regain your trust it is important to provide you with a thorough understanding of the cause behind the Galaxy Note 7 incidents and to implement a comprehensive plan to take preventive measures," he said.

But Mr Koh said the batteries inside the phone, provided by two different manufacturers, were found to have caused the fires.

One group of Samsung Galaxy Note 7 batteries short-circuited and overheated in one corner, and the other overheated in the centre of the battery, he said.

The company took a $US5.3 billion loss from its operating profit due to the Note 7 debacle.

The full statement from Samsung Electronics on its Galaxy Note 7 battery woes:

Today, DJ Koh, President of Mobile Communications Business, Samsung Electronics, hosted a press conference to release the findings of the Galaxy Note7 investigation.

He was joined by three third-party expert organisations - UL, Exponent, and TUV Rheinland - to present their independent investigation results. Below is an overview of what was presented.

Throughout the last several months, Samsung has invested all of our efforts and substantial resources to finding the cause of the Galaxy Note7 incidents.

Our investigation examined every aspect of the Galaxy Note7 including hardware and software, and related processes, such as assembly, quality assurance testing, and logistics.

Through a large-scale testing facility where approximately 700 Samsung researchers and engineers replicated the incidents by testing more than 200,000 fully-assembled devices and more than 30,000 batteries, Samsung finally concluded the cause of the issues.

In addition to our own investigation into these incidents, we also retained independent industry expert organisations, including UL, Exponent and TUV Rheinland, to provide objective, unbiased analysis.

Our investigation, as well as the investigations completed by three independent industry organisations, concluded that the batteries were found to be the cause of the Note7 incidents.

Nonetheless, we provided the target for the battery specifications for the innovative Note7, and we are taking responsibility for our failure to ultimately identify and verify the issues arising out of battery design and manufacturing process prior to the launch of the Note7.

Latest phone introduces iris scanning.
Latest phone introduces iris scanning.

We have taken several corrective actions to ensure this never happens again, including the implementation of a multi-layer safety measures protocol at the product planning stage, and an 8-Point Battery Safety Check.

We look forward to moving ahead with a renewed commitment to safety. The lessons of the past several months are now deeply reflected in our processes and in our culture.

More than ever, we are committed to earning the trust of our customers through innovation that redefines what is possible in safety, and as a gateway to unlimited possibilities and incredible new experiences.

Galaxy Note 7 Australian timeline

On August 3, 2016 (AEDT), the Galaxy Note7 was announced globally at an event in New York.

On August 5, 2016 (AEDT), the Galaxy Note7 pre orders commenced in Australia.

On August 19, 2016 (AEDT), the Galaxy Note7 went on retail sale to customers in Australia. On September 5, 2016, Samsung Australia took the proactive and voluntary step to recall Galaxy

Note7 smartphones in Australia. The recall was in response to an announcement by Samsung Electronics regarding issues with the Galaxy Note7.

Upon announcement of the initial recall on September 5, Samsung Australia began working with operator and retail partners to implement a replacement Galaxy Note7 strategy as well as offer customers the option of an exchange - including to a Galaxy S7 or S7 edge (plus a refund for the difference in any outright purchase price) - or full refund for their Galaxy Note7 (where purchased outright).

As an apology and to thank our loyal customers, we provided a partner specific offer to the value of $250 until late December 2016.

On September 21, 2016, Samsung Australia released a software update to cap the maximum battery charge of all original Galaxy Note7 devices purchased in Australia before September 5, to 60 per cent.

On October 12, 2016, the recall in Australia was extended to include Galaxy Note7 devices that were issued as replacement smartphones for the original Galaxy Note7. 

On November 3, 2016, Samsung Australia announced it would also deploy a software update to replacement Galaxy Note7 devices to cap the maximum battery charge to 60 per cent.

On December 1, 2016, Samsung Australia announced it was working with local telecommunications operators to discontinue Australian network services for Galaxy Note7 devices that were still being used in Australia. The discontinuation commenced from December 15.

On December 15, 2016, Australian network services for Galaxy Note7 devices were discontinued.

On January 13, 2017, Samsung Australia confirmed more than 95 per cent of Galaxy Note7 devices had been returned by customers to their original place of purchase. This exceeds the average Australian recall result of 56% of product return.

On January 23, 2017, DJ Koh, President of Mobile Communications Business, Samsung Electronics, hosted a press conference to release the findings of the Galaxy Note7 investigation.

News Corp Australia


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