Inside Samsung’s crazy testing regime for the Note 7 and future phones

Today Samsung released their independent report into the Note 7 issues that caused fires and injuries, resulting in a complete recall. As expected, the problem lies within the battery’s construction...

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Today Samsung released their independent report into the Note 7 issues that caused fires and injuries, resulting in a complete recall. As expected, the problem lies within the battery’s construction and its simply a case of Samsung pushing too hard to pack a large battery in a small form factor.

Samsung sold a total of 3 million Note 7 phones, an amazing number that needed to be recalled due to the defect. The company has managed to get 96% of them returned which still leaves an alarming 4% or 120,000 out in the world. Hopefully most of those have been discarded. If anyone was still attempting to use the phone, they’re using a brick, with an over the air update killing connectivity to mobile networks.

What is impressive from the report published today is the insight we gained into the testing regime that was undertaken to gather the data necessary to create the report. This level of testing will be used in future devices to ensure the problem never arises again. The device failure was incredibly expensive for the company both in the raw cost of replacing and refunding consumers for the faulty devices, but also in PR with worldwide attention. Samsung have confirmed they will continue the Note line and if the Note 8 were to suffer a technical issue, it’d certainly be the end, with millions of dollars on the line, its critical Samsung get this right.

Through a large-scale testing facility where approximately 700 Samsung researchers and engineers replicated the incidents by testing more than 200,000 fully-assembled devices and more than 30,000 batteries, Samsung finally concluded the cause of the issue was thermal failures of Note7 lithium-ion battery cells. 

Read the full summary documents here:

The solution to problem is new multi-layered safety measures. There are new Battery Safey Design Standards that focuses on Improved safety of standards for the materials in the design of the battery. The hardware design will add new brackets around the battery for protection and new software algorithms will be implemented to govern battery charging temperature, charging current and charging duration.

Logistically the testing is an amazing feat, given the number of devices, charge and discharge cycles, monitoring and data to track devices on this scale. Here’s the gallery to show the testing in action.

Our investigation, as well as the investigations completed by three independent industry organizations, concluded that the batteries were found to be the cause of the Note7 incidents.Nonetheless, we provided the target for the battery specifications for the innovative Note7, and we are taking responsibility for our failure to ultimately identify and verify the issues arising out of battery design and manufacturing process prior to the launch of the Note7.

We have taken several corrective actions to ensure this never happens again, including the implementation of a multi-layer safety measures protocol at the product planning stage, and an 8-Point Battery Safety Check.

 

 

Now allocated to the history books, here’s the full timeline of the Note 7’s life in Australia.

August 3, 2016 (AEDT)
Galaxy Note7 was announced globally at an event in New York.

August 5, 2016 (AEDT)
Galaxy Note7 pre orders commenced in Australia. 

August 19, 2016 (AEDT)
Galaxy Note7 went on retail sale to customers in Australia.
On September 5, 2016, Samsung Australia took the proactive and voluntary step to recall Galaxy

Note7 smartphones in Australia. The recall was in response to an announcement by Samsung 
Electronics regarding issues with the Galaxy Note7.

Upon announcement of the initial recall on September 5, Samsung Australia began working with 
operator and retail partners to implement a replacement Galaxy Note7 strategy as well as offer customers the option of an exchange  including to a Galaxy S7 or S7 edge (plus a refund for the difference in any outright purchase price) – or full refund for their Galaxy Note7 (where purchased outright). As an apology and to thank our loyal customers, we provided a partner specific offer to the value of $250 until late December 2016.

September 21, 2016
Samsung Australia released a software update to cap the maximum battery 
charge of all original Galaxy Note7 devices purchased in Australia before September 5, to 60 percent.

October 12, 2016
The recall in Australia was extended to include Galaxy Note7 devices that were 
issued as replacement smartphones for the original Galaxy Note7.  

November 3, 2016
Samsung Australia announced it would also deploy a software update to replacement Galaxy Note7 devices to cap the maximum battery charge to 60 per cent.

December 1, 2016
Samsung Australia announced it was working with local telecommunications 
operators to discontinue Australian network services for Galaxy Note7 devices that were still being used in Australia. The discontinuation commenced from December 15.

December 15, 2016
Australian network services for Galaxy Note7 devices were discontinued.

January 13, 2017
Samsung Australia confirmed more than 95 per cent of Galaxy Note7 devices had been returned by customers to their original place of purchase. This exceeds the average Australian recall result of 56% of product return.

January 23, 2017
DJ Koh, President of Mobile Communications Business, Samsung Electronics,hosted a press conference to release the findings of the Galaxy Note7 investigation.

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Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis.