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Samsung will be hoping that their will extinguish the news stories about the Note 7 fires and allow them to concentrate on moving forwards after their extremely profitable end to 2016.
There was great excitement when the flagship device was unveiled on August 2nd 2016, with sales starting just over 2 weeks later on August 19th. Any celebrations were short lived however, as it took only 5 days for reports from users to start appearing of the devices ‘exploding’. By 2nd September Samsung had decided enough was enough and issued a global recall of 2.5 million devices amidst guidance from many airlines worldwide that the device couldn’t be used on their flights. October 1st saw sales resume in South Korea and replacement devices being supplied in the US. A little over a week later on the 9th, AT&T and T-Mobile (who between them have almost 50% of the US phone subscriptions).
Both carriers announced that they would no longer be supporting the device. This seemed to be the final nail in the coffin of the doomed device, with Samsung themselves halting sales only two days later.
Their recent statement confirms that the exact reasoning behind the devices failure was damage to the separator within the battery. This component allows the safe connection of positive and negative electrodes. A faulty separator can and did cause the batteries to short circuit. What is arguably the worst part of the story is that there were two separate issues with two of the different batteries used, which both created the same problem and ultimately caused some devices to overheat. It is for this reason that there were two separate product recalls of the Note 7.
The issue with the first batch to be recalled was an error in the design that didn’t afford enough room for the electrodes to safely operate. The issue with the second batch however was related to a lack of insulation tape. One thing that many mobile phone users will find ironic is that Samsung were trying to save space on the devices batteries when so many users across differing brands already complain about phone battery lives when a slightly bigger battery that lasts longer and isn’t at risk of combustion seems preferable.
Samsung themselves have managed to avoid too large of a short term financial fallout due to strong sales of components, which has seen the group forecast Q4 2016 profits to be their highest for 3 years. Judgement of the impact of the scandal on the mobile handset portion of their business will have to wait until the release of their next major handset. This is widely believed to be the Samsung Galaxy S8, rumoured to release in April but with nothing confirmed by Samsung as yet. Will consumers flock to other manufacturers after the Note 7 scandal?