Product Liability

Samsung Blames Note 7 Fires on Lithium-ion Battery Defects

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 314x210 Samsung Blames Note 7 Fires on Lithium ion Battery DefectsSamsung Electronics said Monday that flaws in the design and production of the lithium-ion batteries used in its Galaxy Note 7 smartphones made the devices prone to catch fire.

The Korean electronics giant’s explanation of the battery problem, which prompted two Note 7 recalls and resulted in the quick demise of the device, steered blame away from the phone’s hardware and software, leaving some industry experts doubtful of the company’s findings.

Samsung said in a press conference that it tested more than 200,000 smartphone and 30,000 lithium-ion batteries and found different defects in each of the two kinds of batteries used in the Note 7 phones.

Both types of batteries featured 3,500 mAh, or milliampere hour – an energy density that pushed the limits of batteries in the smartphone industry.

Samsung said testing found that batteries made by one manufacturer had damage to the upper corner of the batteries, an overly thin separator, and high-energy density that combined to make the batteries prone to overheat because there was not enough space to safely accommodate the battery’s electrodes.

Another batch of batteries made by a different manufacturer was prone to malfunction because of welding defects and a lack of protective tape in the battery cells, Samsung said.

But Patrick Moorhead, president of Moor Insights & Strategy, told the Associated Press that the chances of two different battery suppliers having safety issues with the same phone were extremely low, adding that the problem may signal “an inflection point in smartphone battery technology.”

Park Chul Wan, a former director of the next generation battery research center at the Korea Electronics Technology Institute, told the AP that Samsung’s explanations of the problem were no different than the ones it offered after the first Note 7 recall.

“Samsung said the weaknesses could make the phone prone to catch fire. That I understand but what did trigger fires in such conditions? Did they discuss if there is another cause? No,” said Mr. Park told the AP.

Samsung said it was taking full responsibility for the defective batteries “for our failure to ultimately identify and verify the issues arising out of battery design and manufacturing.”

The Note 7 debacle started just days after Samsung released the much-anticipated smartphone, which analysts say was intended to compete with Apple’s forthcoming iPhone 7. Samsung recalled the devices in September amid reports that they were overheating, catching fire, and in some cases exploding.

But the replacement phones that Samsung provided to customers failed to correct the problem, prompting the company to scrap the Note 7 line completely. The battery problems have also prompted the company to delay the launch of its next Galaxy phone, the S8, which was expected to launch in February. The disaster has cost Samsung $5.3 billion, the AP reported.

Source: Associated Press