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05 December 2016

Samsung's Aggressive Battery Design Led to the Galaxy Note 7 Explosions

The battery for the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 had very
thin margins for safety.
Report: Samsung's aggressive battery design led to the Galaxy Note 7 explosions
by Alan F., phonearena.com, 4 December 2016

According to a new report, Samsung's aggressive design for the battery employed by the Galaxy Note 7might have been the culprit behind the multiple explosions that led the company to pull the phablet from the market. The way the cell was designed, a pair of polymer layers drenched in electrolytes was used to separate a positive layer made of lithium cobalt oxide, and a negative layer made of graphite. Should those two layers meet, the electrolytes would heat up causing an explosion.

As the report points out, compressing the battery would force the positive and negative layers to squeeze together. Samsung itself said that it might have been too aggressive with the design. In addition, there is a normal amount of swelling that takes place. Some of it comes from the pressure on the battery created through pushing on the back cover (for example, by putting the phone in one's back pocket and then sitting on a chair).

In order to make the phone thin, the batteries were designed to be carry as much capacity as possible, while keeping to a svelte footprint. The report stated that if the phablet had not been recalled, the body of Galaxy Note 7 units throughout the world would probably have separated.

Samsung was taking a risk by shipping a battery that left very little wiggle room for problems. And yes, this should have been spotted in tests. However, Samsung broke protocol by handling the testing itself.

"The design and validation process for a new product is challenging for everyone. In this case, Samsung took a deliberate step towards danger, and their existing test infrastructure and design validation process failed them. They shipped a dangerous product. That this is possible at one of the top consumer electronic companies in the world is humbling -- and demonstrates the need for better tools. Instrumental is building them."-Instrumental

Samsung did shoot itself in the foot. By one calculation, the company will tally more than $5 billion in lost revenue and other costs associated with the recall of the Galaxy Note 7.


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