Now, according to a report from The New York Times, it’s been revealed that Samsung may not have any idea why the Galaxy Note 7 is catching fire, smoking, and in some cases causing physical damage to owners and property. The report reveals that Samsung is not able to replicate the issue at all, despite dispatching hundreds of employees to try and figure out the root cause.
Unfortunately, the report also states that while Samsung was unable to discover the issue, the company might have been too quick to blame the battery for the issue, blaming a “minor manufacturing flaw” related to its affiliate Samsung SDI. As a result of that decision, Samsung worked with a different supply partner, ATL, and those replacement units had their own issues as well, with more devices catching fire.
Park Chul-wan is the former director of the Center for Advanced Batteries at the Korea Electronics Technology Institute, and he spoke with the publication regarding the issue at hand, saying:
“It was too quick to blame the batteries. I think there was nothing wrong with them or that they were not the main problem. The Note 7 had more features and was more complex than any other phone manufactured. In a race to surpass iPhone, Samsung seems to have packed it with so much innovation it became uncontrollable.”
On top of all that, and perhaps more damning, is the publication’s reveal that Samsung actually blocked communications between the engineers it had sent out to discover the problem. The company apparently feared legal issue, so any written communication was barred. As a result, engineers could not work together, form theories, or build off findings to perhaps discover a root cause.
In a separate report from Bloomberg, investigators are reportedly coming forward to say that they believe a battery issue is at fault for the situation, but in the replacement units. According to the publication, the initial flaw with the first batch of Galaxy Note 7 shipments was probably not related to the battery at all (which would line up with the findings from the NYT), but in Samsung’s rush to use ATL and replace the batteries, the replacement models may suffer from a battery issue that is causing the devices to catch fire.
“Preliminary examination of the evidence from recent battery incidents suggests there is an issue with the batteries made by China’s Amperex Technology Ltd., which were supposed to be a safe alternative to those supplied by another company that led to scores of incidents in which phones burned and melted, according to a person familiar with discussions between government agencies and the company.
The issue may have crept into the supply line after Samsung began replacing Note 7 phones that were equipped with batteries made by Samsung SDI Co., said the person, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about the issue. The SDI batteries were slightly too large for the phone, according to a U.S. consumer-safety agency. Samsung is a major shareholder in Samsung SDI.”
Whether it’s batteries or simply too much technology crammed into a rushed design, the results are the same: a discontinued flagship smartphone, and Samsung left to pick up the pieces.