Samsung: Here's Why Phones Caught Fire

Batteries were to blame, company says
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 23, 2017 4:24 AM CST
Samsung: Here's Why Phones Caught Fire
Powered-off Samsung Electronics Galaxy Note 7 smartphones are displayed at the company's service center in Seoul, South Korea.   (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File)

One of the worst fiascos in smartphone history was caused not by faulty hardware or software, but by faulty batteries from two different manufacturers, Samsung says. In a Monday press conference in Seoul, the company said early Galaxy Note 7 fires were caused by ill-fitting battery components, the BBC reports. In replacement phones, defects including welding issues and a lack of insulation were to blame, the company said. Samsung issued a recall last year after widely reported cases of the phone catching fire and exploding. It ended up axing its answer to the iPhone and losing around $5.3 billion. "The lessons of this incident are deeply reflected in our culture and process," Samsung mobile chief Koh Dong-jing told reporters.

"Samsung Electronics will be working hard to regain consumer trust," Koh said. Samsung says that to verify the cause of the fires, 700 researchers tested more than 200,000 phones and 30,000 batteries, the AP reports. Koh told reporters that there was no sign that the very high energy density of the Note 7 batteries had made them prone to overheating, but the episode provides a "chance to strengthen the safety of lithium-ion batteries for the entire industry, not only us." Samsung says it has recovered 96% of the 3 million Note 7s that were sold, and it hasn't decided yet whether it is going to reuse parts. Analysts tell Reuters that Samsung has probably done enough to reassure consumers, but it will be a different story if there are any problems with its Galaxy S8, which is expected to be in stores by April. (Read more Galaxy Note stories.)

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