Samsung says battery was key cause of Galaxy Note 7 fires


Seoul: Samsung Electronics Co.’s difficulties with Note 7 smartphones last year were caused by irregularly designed batteries that led to overheating and fires as the South Korean company announced the results of a lengthy probe into the debacle.

The initial batch of batteries were made by an affiliate, Samsung SDI Co. Replacements after a recall were also faulty amid a quick ramp-up in production, forcing Samsung to end production and scrap the phone altogether.

The company’s deepest business crisis in its 48 years began with a growing list of reports about the device overheating or bursting into flame. That triggered a global recall, inviting regulatory scrutiny and public outrage. To determine the cause of the faulty units, about 200,000 phones and 30,000 separate batteries were examined in an investigation that included 700 people, D.J. Koh, head of Samsung’s mobile business, said at a news conference.

“We provided the target for the battery specifications for the innovative Note 7, and we are taking responsibility for our failure to ultimately identify and verify the issues arising out of battery design and manufacturing,” Samsung said in a statement Monday.

Electrodes at a specific location within the first batch of batteries came in touch with each other, causing a short circuit that in turn caused overheating and fires. The defects happened during the design and manufacturing phase, Koh said. In addition to Samsung’s own investigation, the company retained UL LLC, Exponent Inc. and TÜV Rheinland Group.

Samsung didn’t identify its battery suppliers, instead listing them as ‘A battery’ and ‘B battery’ in its statement. In addition to Samsung SDI, Amperex Technology Ltd. was a provider of batteries to the Note 7.

The next question is how much the debacle will cost Samsung Electronics, the world’s largest smartphone maker. Samsung hasn’t yet detailed the price of the recall in Monday’s news conference. The company says it’s now focused on learning from its mistakes as it prepares to launch the next in its Galaxy S line, said to be in March or April.

“We have taken several corrective actions to make sure this never happens again,” Samsung said in the statement