While it has previously been speculated way before, we now have an official confirmation from Samsung that it was indeed the battery that caused the infamous Galaxy Note 7 to become the butt of jokes online. Dong-jin Koh, Samsung’s mobile business chief, blames two different instances of bad battery design and a rush to release an updated version of the Galaxy Note 7. He also used the Monday press conference in Seoul, South Korea to apologize to customers and suppliers.
The first problem affected the first batch of Note 7 phones that launched last fall. In those phones, the battery was too large for the casing of the phone, which caused some to overheat, according to Samsung’s report. The Galaxy Note 7 handsets were packed with lithium-ion batteries, which are arranged in three layers: a positive electrode, a negative one and a third physical layer that acted as the separator between the first two. When the positive and negative electrodes touch, it can sometimes lead to short circuits within the battery cells.
“Our analysis showed the main cause for the incidents was deflections in the negative electrodes,” Koh said, adding incorrect positioning of the negative electrode tip also led to a higher likelihood of incidents.
Samsung’s suppliers then moved to replace those batteries with safer versions, but in their haste, a completely different production flaw was introduced. Welding defects inside the batteries – melted copper on the negative electrode area led to contact between the positive and negative layers – made those supposedly safe replacements prone to short-circuiting and bursting into flames as well.
Samsung says it has developed a new eight-point battery check to make sure future devices don’t suffer the same fate as the Galaxy Note 7. The test includes an X-ray of the phone and extreme testing conditions that force the battery to work harder than normal.
The company also formed a new group of third-party battery advisors that includes professors from the University of Cambridge, UC Berkeley, and Stanford University.
It’s still unclear how the events of the past few months will affect sales of Samsung’s new flagship devices, but the company hasn’t been hurting too badly as a result so far. Samsung is due to report its full-year earnings tomorrow. The company took a $5.3 billion loss from its operating profit due to the Note 7 debacle but, despite this, fourth-quarter operating profit is expected to hit a more than three-year high, driven by chip sales, according to Reuters.