In September, Samsung faced brickbats and was subjected to harsh criticism from all quarters when an airline passenger’s Note 7 caught fire in motion. Many accidents like this have further been reported which lead to Samsung providing replacement phones for the damaged ones in order to mop up their faults. This move backfired as these replacements also caught fire. As on October 11th, Samsung releases a final statement to entirely stop production of Note 7 phones altogether.
With refund orders from the customers, Samsung has its face painted black with this mishap. What went wrong? A detailed look on the fiasco from a different angle:
Samsung’s Note 7 aimed at locking horns with Apple’s iPhone 7 but there were many chinks in Samsung’s armor, internally.
On the first week of release, many reports of battery overheating were reported to the company. Post first week, batteries caught fire in all unlikeliest scenarios, locations and times.
With mounting accusations on the quality of battery in the phone, the company rustled up a deal with an alternate battery manufacturer and released a statement to replace the faulty ones with another Note 7 instrument and a new battery.
However, this destroyed what was left of Samsung’s trustworthiness with the customers as the replacements exhibited the same issue as the original ones.
When there were casualties and people were physically harmed because of this, Samsung had no other alternative but to shut down production and sales of the existing ones to ensure safety and avoid increased legal charges being slapped on them. As on today, he net amount that Samsung owes the public is close to $3 billion.
This being the case, we analyze why Samsung would bungle up on something that is as crucial as the device’s battery.
The Lithium ion battery has been the Achilles’ heels for Samsung, right from their first smartphone release. Frequent problems of overheating and melting were reported but Samsung was careful enough to detect these shenanigans, cover them up and wipe out the fingerprints in order to avoid the media hounds from scenting it.
The whole mobile battery scene has being taken over by rechargeable lithium because they have large power storage capacity that can adapt to diverse devices irrespective of their per day usage. The Li-ion battery has two electrodes and while charging, lithium ions move from one electrode to another. This charge that is built up travels to the other side upon usage. The entire setup would become combustible when these two electrodes meet and hence are separated with built in separators.
In Samsung’s set up, the battery is literally glued into the device and pressure is added on the plates triggering excessive heat and subsequently, the big boom. Spokespeople for the scientists at Samsung claim that they have reached 90% limit to push the capabilities of the Li-ion batteries and attribute the pressure to the consumer’s rising needs of bigger screen and better performance, all packed in a super slim device.
The irony of the situation is, Samsung, in its previous phone release; Galaxy 5 had rolled out a “replace the dead with new” battery concept. This could have been implemented here if not for the fixed battery. Not only does this harm the person, but also harms the environment as the lithium polymer batteries are non recyclable and can cause serious damage in the long run.
With so many faults in the dossier, Samsung should consider redesigning and rethinking its strategies keeping their faults in mind much more than just blindly spearheading release of phones that do not have their basic features straight.
Collaborator: Shruti Balakrishnan