The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is officially dead. Samsung has ended production of the phone and it will go down in history as one of the worst tech blunders a major company has ever made. So what makes the Galaxy Note 7 such a defective device? After the first recall, Samsung suggested that the batteries were at fault. However, a new report from South Korea suggests the design of the phone itself may be the reason.
Samsung’s initial reason for the recall is a defect in the batteries which can cause the positive and negative poles to come into contact, which results in the battery erupting into flames. Samsung SDI supplied the batteries for the first batch of Galaxy Note 7 devices released but after the recall, the Note 7 replacement batteries were sourced from a company called ATL.
However, problems with these batteries soon surfaced as reports from China suggested a replacement device caught fire. The initial report was waved off as possibly an old device, but more reports began happening in the United States with people who confirmed they had obtained a replacement Note 7. A phone burst into flames on a Southwest flight. A man’s house caught fire because he charged his phone. It became clear that these “safe” devices weren’t so safe.
Samsung still doesn’t know what the problem is. According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, Samsung has at least 92 reports of overheating batteries in these devices, 55 of which resulted in property damage and 26 cases had reports of burns. Samsung is now issuing a second recall for the device to reclaim the replacement phones sent out to its customers.
So what’s the real reason the Galaxy Note 7 is so hazardous? Samsung doesn’t know, but some experts are beginning to weigh in on the situation. Two former employees spoke with the New York Times about the company culture and asked not to be named for fear of retaliation. They described the work environment as militaristic and said the company is run with a top-down approach, in which orders come from people high above who likely don’t understand how the technology in smartphone design works.
Samsung engineers haven’t been able to replicate the problem in their labs and they’re having a hard time communicating with one another because of Samsung’s corporate culture. Because the company feared lawsuits and subpoenas, it ordered its engineers and testers to communicate offline-only.
Park Chul-wan served as the former director of the Center for Advanced Batteries at the Korea Electronics Technology Institute and spoke with some of Samsung’s engineers. He said replication of the problem should be easy if the problem were with the chipboards or the design of the phone. Instead, he suggests Samsung’s rush to beat Apple may have led them to create an unpredictable phone.
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.