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Samsung says two separate battery issues were to blame for all of its Galaxy Note 7 problems

After months of investigating, the company says there was nothing wrong with the phone itself.

Samsung tested thousands of phones to figure out what went wrong with the Galaxy Note 7.

Samsung has an answer for what went wrong with the Galaxy Note 7, but it may not be a very satisfying one.

After months of investigating, Samsung is pinning all the blame on two separate battery flaws, insisting nothing was wrong with the phone itself.

For those who have been living under a rock — and not taken any flights in the last four months — a significant number of Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones overheated and caught fire, prompting two recalls and the eventual discontinuation of Samsung’s highest-end phone.

“It was a very painful period, but in a couple of months we learned a lot,” Samsung mobile head DJ Koh told Recode in an interview at Samsung’s Mountain View, Calif., offices.

Samsung said its investigation, which involved 700 dedicated staff testing 200,000 phones and 30,000 additional batteries, was also validated by similar findings by the three outside firms it brought in to investigate (UL, Exponent and Germany’s TUV Rheinland).

In response to its findings, Samsung is adding several steps to its testing processes for the lithium-ion batteries it uses and forming a battery advisory board.

“I wish [that] this serves as an opportunity to improve safety of lithium-ion not only for Samsung but for the entire industry,” Koh said, adding that Samsung takes responsibility for all components of the phone, including batteries made by other Samsung subsidiaries and those bought from outside companies.

For those who want to get a bit nerdy, here’s what Samsung says was wrong with each battery. For the first battery, Samsung says a design flaw in the upper right corner of the battery made the electrodes prone to bend and, in some cases, led to a breakdown in the separation between positive and negative tabs, causing a short circuit.

With the second battery, which came from a separate supplier, Samsung believes there was nothing wrong with the design itself, but says a manufacturing issue led to a welding defect that prompted that battery to also short circuit and ignite.

Samsung said that its design for the Note 7, while demanding on its battery suppliers, was not unreasonable or the reason why the batteries failed. The issues with battery B, Samsung said, were tied to the fact that the supplier tried to quickly increase its production after battery A was pulled off the market.

“We believe if not for that manufacturing issue on the ramp [of battery B], the Note 7 would still be on the market,” Samsung Electronics America head Tim Baxter told Recode.

The key question now is whether consumers will find Samsung’s answers — and proposed changes — convincing enough to restore their trust.

Samsung promised to continue both its Galaxy and Galaxy Note product families and said it will continue to innovate even as it ensures a higher priority for product safety.

The company is expected to introduce the Galaxy S8 in the coming weeks and, if it follows past practice, the next Galaxy Note would come in the fall. The company said all forthcoming phones will go through the new eight-step battery testing procedures.


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