When it came out, the Galaxy Note 7 was nearly universally revered for standing as a sterling flagship released by Samsung in the second half of 2016. That is until several units began exploding. Thought at first as simply battery charging mishaps, a continuous influx of reports soon revealed that the problem was more insidious, and it may have stemmed from battery flaws or the phone's manufacturing process.
That problem has largely been speculated sans Samsung's official word about a definite cause. The company has recently closed its investigation of the whole dismal affair, and it has just finished disclosing the findings at an event Sunday (U.S. time) that was livestreamed via its own website.
During that hourlong press event held in South Korea, Samsung offered a highly detailed explanation of what went wrong, laying down slides full of findings from three independent agencies that the company ordered to conduct an investigation. These agencies burrowed deep, scrutinizing various fronts — from battery chemistry, to manufacturing procedures, to Samsung's phone transport logistics — so as to arrive at a logical explanation.
Here are the most important things we learned from the event.
Note 7 Battery Problems
Two different types of batteries combusted for two different reasons, according to Samsung. The first one that shipped with the Note 7 burst to flames because of a design flaw that paved the way for the battery's positive and negative electrodes to come into contact, which caused it to short-circuit.
After recalling the problematic handsets, Samsung then issued replacement units with different batteries given by a new supplier, but quality control couldn't keep up with stacked orders, thereby initiating a manufacturing flaw: a welding error that left a large enough nutter of material to open up a hole in the separator that kept chemicals apart.
Investigators found out that at times, the separator wasn't even present. Not too long after issuing the replacement units, Samsung initiated a second recall, eventually leading to a complete production halt of the Note 7.
Samsung opted not to disclose its battery suppliers, but as CNET reports, citing people familiar with the matter, Samsung SDI was responsible for the initial batteries; Amperex Technology made the batteries for the replacement units.
Samsung Will Uphold A New Eight-Point Battery Safety Check
To prevent the Note 7's disastrous stint from ever being replicated in the future, Samsung announced that every phone it'll release moving forward will undergo its new eight-point battery safety check, which includes new protocols and enhancements to Samsung's original safety check. Part of the new protocol sees Samsung more involved in aspects such as types of material used, and more. In fact, Samsung believes its new safety check is so thorough that it's encouraging other companies to leverage it for their own testing procedures, too.
Galaxy S8 Delay
Samsung's next flagship, the Galaxy S8, has been confirmed to skip a late February launch. The release date has been pushed back because the company had to deal with the Note 7 recall and investigation.
That being said, many are expecting Samsung to officially unveil the handset at this year's Mobile World Congress happening late February in Barcelona, Spain. That prospect, however, has since been debunked by a Samsung executive, so all eyes and ears are on Samsung for an official unveiling date.
In the meantime, a trove of rumors populate online space in relation to the Galaxy S8's internals, externals, and so forth. By all means dive into those for a detailed, if speculative, look at what the Galaxy S8 could be, but needless to say that all rumors should be treated with generous suspicion.
Note 8 Will Still Happen
There will still be a Note 8 even after the Note branding has already been tainted in the public eye. In fact, the new iteration will be a "better, safer and very innovative Note 8," according to D.J. Koh, Samsung's mobile chief. The company typically releases Galaxy S series smartphones during the first half, and the Note series during the year's latter half.
While it remains to be seen if consumers come crawling back to the Note brand, Samsung seems hopeful that it recapture the dedicated followers of its Note smartphones.