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January 24, 2017

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Samsung cites batteries for causing Note 7 fires

SAMSUNG Electronics said flaws in the design and production of batteries used in its Galaxy Note 7 smartphone, not its hardware or software, made it prone to catch fire.

Samsung said yesterday that it was responsible for not ensuring the design specifications given to its suppliers were failsafe but believed its investigation into the problem would help the entire industry counter overheating risks with lithium batteries. Analysts questioned if the world’s largest smartphone maker had really gotten to the bottom of the problem.

The South Korean company delayed the launch of its next Galaxy phone — the Galaxy S8, which usually would come in February. It also unveiled tighter quality controls and more rigorous testing to ensure safety.

During a two-hour press conference live-streamed in English, Chinese and Korean, Samsung said tests of more than 200,000 phones and 30,000 batteries showed different problems with each of the two kinds of batteries used in the Note 7.

Some experts had speculated that the phones’ ultra-thin design or water-resistant features could have made them prone to overheat. Koh Dong-jin, president of Samsung’s mobile division, said the investigation found no such problems.

The Galaxy Note 7 featured one of the biggest battery capacities so far for smartphones at 3,500mAh, or milliampere-hour, which gave it the highest energy density of all Samsung’s devices. But Koh said Samsung and outside inspectors found no evidence that the high energy density alone was to blame.

Samsung unveiled the Note 7 on August 2 and weeks later recalled the first batch after reports emerged the phones were overheating and in some cases exploding. After replacement phones also started catching fire, aviation authorities banned them on flights, and the firm dropped the product for good.



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