No clear answers on why Note 7 explodes, but Galaxy S7 is the clear replacement for now
The Galaxy Note 7 has a tendency to explode — that we’ve known for sure since late August. We still don’t know why it’s happened at a consistent and alarmingly frequent rate. That’s what multinational government investigators are trying to figure out right now.
At this point, even Samsung is left guessing at what’s going on between its own engineering and its component sources. But it does know what to do to pad out its balance books until it can launch the Galaxy S8.
Big, bursting batteries or pedal to the metal?
A source with knowledge of government missives to the company told Bloomberg that at first blush, investigators believe that Chinese supplier Amperex Technology picked up a flaw in their assembly line after it took on extra orders that were supposed to go to Samsung SDI.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, some of the SDI batteries were larger than what the Note 7 was designed to take. Samsung UK disclosed that some batteries had their anodes and cathodes too close to each other, causing excessive heat discharge. It is thought that these batteries triggered the first batch of recalls for the phone.
At least part of the problem may also be systemic at Samsung’s preference. One source to the Financial Times said that the battery charging microprocessor may have been programmed to be too aggressive, thus allowing for an increase in the cell’s workload, entropy and the chance for the battery to overheat.
Complicating the matter is the silicon that’s been used this year. This year’s Samsung flagships have had chipsets with two designs — one from its in-house Exynos unit, the other from Qualcomm and its Snapdragon 820. Both chips were apparently built by Samsung. It was rumored that applied Quick Charge 2.0 to the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge because its Exynos processor could not support the newer, more flexible 3.0 standard, even though the Snapdragon 820 could. The two chipsets were also put in the Galaxy Note 7 and distributed to different markets.
The chaebol has not addressed the issue of causation at all. Worries of the company not being able to get out in front of its sagging public image have investors worried, though its share prices have remained near all-time highs. The company has revised down its earnings estimates for the quarter.
Salvaging with the S7
In the meantime, The Korea Herald is reporting from an industrial source that Samsung will try and make up for lost Note 7 sales by pushing hard on Galaxy S7 production. Other production sources are focusing on the S7 as well as the Galaxy A8 and other mid-range models.
Samsung is said to still have the Galaxy S8 thumbed for a late February/early March release, despite pressures to close the flagship gap.
“[An early release] would be possible only if Samsung ceases production of the Note 7 for good and takes no further measures to salvage the handset,” one factory source said.