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Did a rush to beat Apple cause the Samsung Note7’s battery problems?

By Alvin Soon - on 19 Sep 2016, 5:45pm

Did a rush to beat Apple cause the Samsung Note7’s battery problems?

Bloomberg has published a report that suggests a rush to beat Apple’s iPhone 7 could have lead to mistakes that caused the Samsung Note7’s battery problems.

Speaking to “people familiar with the matter,” the top executives at Samsung decided to speed up the launch of the new Note after they heard that Apple’s iPhone 7 would look just like the iPhone 6/6s.

The launch date was shifted 10 days earlier, and employees at Samsung and its suppliers were apparently stretching their work hours and working under more pressure than usual.

While the Note7 launched to positive reviews, it wasn’t long before the battery’s problems appeared. Note7s around the world burst into flames while charging; photos and at least one YouTube video surfaced on social media showing charred Note7s.

This image of a burnt Note7 first appeared on Baidu.

According to Samsung, the Note7’s battery cells appeared to overheat because the anode-to-cathode came into contact, creating a short. Samsung blamed the fault on several contributing factors that happened due to a “sub-optimized assembly process” from a “supplier in question.” The “supplier in question” is Samsung SDI, which is 20 percent owned by Samsung Electronics, and also makes phone batteries for Apple.

Samsung also said that while the Note7 has a charging cutoff protection circuit which cuts off charging when it senses unusually high temperatures, the short circuit occurred internally inside a battery cell. Thus, even though the protection circuit cut off charging externally, it couldn’t stop the heat buildup that was already on its way inside the battery.

Samsung and the US Consumer Product Safety Commission have strongly recommended that Note7 owners should not continue using their Note7s, a recommendation we’d stand behind as reports of cars catching fire and a Note7 exploding in a man’s pants pocket have come in.

Some airlines have also banned the Note7 from being used onboard, including our own Singapore Airlines, which underscores the seriousness of the issue.

If you haven’t already done so, you can register online to replace your Samsung Galaxy Note7 with a new model that Samsung says is free of the battery issue.

However, while owners in the US can exchange the Note7 for a Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge instead of another Note7, owners in Singapore cannot. We’ve previously reached out to Samsung on this matter but haven’t received a response.

Read Bloomberg’s report on what happened at Samsung as they built the Note7.

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