Samsung needed to explain exactly what happened…

Written by Kamil Arli

Forbes Columnist Patrick Moorhead wrote an article on Samsung.

Samsung Electronics has the number one market share position globally at 20% (Q3 IDC) while Apple has 12.5% global market share and Huawei has 9.3%. Apple’s iPhone has over 60% share of the premium $500+ smartphone space.


The Samsung Galaxy Note7 was Samsung’s best challenge to the iPhone’s premium dominance for years and went after their somewhat newer larger screen devices like the iPhone 6 and 6S. Some of the best things about the Galaxy Note7 were its almost borderless HDR display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, Iris scanner and secure folder with Knox security, water resistance and an S Pen that worked better than ever, just to name a few.

Samsung has invested big resources to investigate the Note7 issues (Image: Samsung)

Samsung has invested big resources to investigate the Note7 issues (Image: Samsung)

I believe Samsung Electronics did a pretty good job of handling the initial recall until the second set of issues started to arise. Recalls rarely have long-term consumer impact, just look at automobile deaths and how many people must get injured until a vehicle is recalled.

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To regain the trust of consumers that it had lost, Samsung needed to explain exactly what happened, why it happened and even more importantly, show how they would ensure it will never happen again. Samsung did this tonight in a webcast straight from Seoul, Korea.

Huge investment and 3rd party help

Samsung Electronics invested enormous resources into this recall effort including the discovery of the core issue and how to resolve and prevent it. Never have I ever seen this many resources dedicated and number of devices tested. Samsung said they used over 700 R&D staff to look at over 300K devices and 30K batteries. This effort was not only done internally by Samsung, they also enlisted the help of household names like UL, TUV Rheinland. Both of those firms are internationally recognized for their testing rigor and their certification logos on consumer products around the world. Samsung also enlisted the help of a third 3rd party organization to validate and confirm Samsung’s own findings, Exponent, who helps with accident and failure investigation as well as product performance and safety recalls. I believe leveraging these third parties was smart as it wasn’t just Samsung talking.

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Samsung brought in 3 third-party investigators (Image: TUV, UL, Exponent)

Samsung brought in 3 third-party investigators (Image: TUV, UL, Exponent)

What happened

These three companies and Samsung looked at things like PCB hardware, software, manufacturing and logistics, discharge tests and they didn’t find anything until they did a battery cell analysis. This was the common root cause that was discovered by UL, Exponent and Samsung. The discovery resulted in realizing that both, yes both battery suppliers had two different defects that produced battery overheating.


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When it came to batteries supplied by Manufacturer A they discovered some unintended damage in the cell closest to the negative tab. This damage was caused by inadequate volume to accommodate the electrode assembly. This caused multiple ways for internal cell faulting to occur which caused thermal failure with normal battery discharge.

Battery A supplier issues (Image: Samsung)

Battery A supplier issues (Image: Samsung)

Manufacturer B was discovered to have sharp edge protrusions in the welding joints which caused damage to the positive tab in the battery and eventually resulted in a short circuit between the positive tab and the copper of the negative electrode. That discovery was in addition to preventative measures that could have prevented the internal shorts like missing insulation tape and misaligned insulation tape which could have been contributing factors. Net-net there were two different supplier issues and that explains the secondary problem with replacements.

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About the author


Kamil Arli

Editor of Digital Media Consultant

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